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Ann Kim

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ann Kim
EducationColumbia University
Culinary career
Current restaurant(s)
  • Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza, Kim's
Previous restaurant(s)
  • Sooki & Mimi
Award(s) won

Ann Kim is a James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Early life[edit]

Kim immigrated from South Korea to the United States in 1977 at the age of four, settling in Apple Valley, Minnesota with her sister, parents and grandmother. She was in the theater program at Apple Valley High School, and she pursued an English Degree at Columbia University in New York City, graduating in 1995.[1] She returned to Minneapolis and worked as an actress for eight years before deciding to enter the restaurant business.[2][3]

Culinary career[edit]

Recalling the pizza she had enjoyed in New York, Kim began to study pizza making, training at Tony Gemignani's International School of Pizza in San Francisco.[3][4] In 2011, Kim and her partner (and future husband) Conrad Leifur opened Pizzeria Lola in Minneapolis.[4] When reviewing the restaurant for Food & Wine, Andrew Zimmern said: "Yes, it’s true, Minnesota has the best pizza in America."[5] Guy Fieri visited Pizzeria Lola in 2012 for the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.[6] In 2012, Kim and Leifur opened a second restaurant in Edina, Minnesota, a smaller pizzeria called Hello Pizza, selling pies and slices from a counter.[7]

In 2016, Kim and Leifur opened a third restaurant named Young Joni in northeast Minneapolis, expanding from pizza to a broader menu featuring hearth cooking and Korean influences.[2][3] It was named one of the best new restaurants in America by Eater and GQ magazine.[8][9] The Star Tribune named it its 2017 Restaurant of the Year; the Star Tribune's critic Rick Nelson commented that "One of the many reasons why this is such an exciting era for Twin Cities dining can be summed up in two words: Young Joni."[10][11]

In 2019, Kim won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest.[12]

Kim opened her fourth restaurant, Sooki & Mimi, in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis in 2021. Focusing on tortillas and other dishes created using masa made from hand-ground nixtamalized corn, the menu was inspired by corn tortillas Kim ate in the Valle de Guadalupe which were so good they brought tears to her eyes.[13][14] In 2023, she closed this restaurant and opened a new one on November 7, 2023, in the same space, simply called Kim's.[15]

In 2022, Kim was featured on episode 3 of Netflix's Chef's Table: Pizza, the seventh season of the Chef's Table series. The episode focused on Kim's culinary career in relation to pizza.[16][17]

Response to worker union organizing[edit]

On May 28, 2024, workers at Kim's restaurant in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis delivered a petition to Kim declaring their intent to unionize.[18] Workers are organizing with Unite Here Local 17, a local hospitality union.[18] Worker issues include consistent scheduling so they can better anticipate their paychecks.[18] Kim decided not to voluntarily recognize the union, so the restaurant workers will vote on June 27, 2024, on unionizing.[19] More than 70% of the restaurant's workers signed the initial petition.[19]


  1. ^ "Newsmakers". Columbia College Today. Summer 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Mihelich, Amy (May 4, 2018). "James Beard Award finalist remembers Apple Valley mentors". Sun - This Week. hometownsource.com.
  3. ^ a b c Jacobson, Dana (April 6, 2019). "How Ann Kim went from aspiring actress to one of the Twin Cities' top chefs". The Dish. CBS News.
  4. ^ a b Hutton, Rachel (January 12, 2011). "Pizzeria Lola serves up a slice of class in south Minneapolis". City Pages.
  5. ^ Zimmern, Andrew (March 31, 2015). "Andrew Zimmern's Favorite Pizza". Food & Wine. Archived from the original on May 8, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  6. ^ Platt, Adam (May 29, 2015). "The Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives Effect". Twin Cities Business. Archived from the original on May 21, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  7. ^ Nelson, Rick (September 6, 2012). "Say 'hello' to Hello Pizza in Edina". Star Tribune.
  8. ^ Summers, Joy (July 26, 2017). "Ann Kim's Young Joni Named A Best New Restaurant in America". Eater - Twin Cities.
  9. ^ Martin, Brett (April 20, 2017). "Best New Restaurants - 2017". GQ Magazine.
  10. ^ Nelson, Rick (December 17, 2017). "Restaurant of the Year: Young Joni is a true original in northeast Minneapolis". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on May 8, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  11. ^ Anderson, Brett (2019-09-10). "From Pizza to Tortillas, a Midwestern Chef Defies Assumptions". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  12. ^ Nelson, Rick (May 7, 2019). "Minnesota's Ann Kim brings home the James Beard chef award". Star Tribune.
  13. ^ Summers, Joy (2021-02-09). "Ann Kim's New Restaurant Boldly Opens With a Vegetarian Tasting Menu". Eater Twin Cities. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  14. ^ Grumdahl, Dara Moskowitz (2021-05-31). "Sooki and Mimi Isn't an 'Authentic' Mexican Restaurant—It's Authentically Ann Kim". Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Retrieved 2023-01-22.
  15. ^ March, Stephanie (2023-08-11). "Goodbye to Sooki & Mimi, Hello to Kim's". Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  16. ^ "Minneapolis chef Ann Kim featured in Netflix docuseries 'Chef's Table'". kare11.com. September 7, 2022. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  17. ^ "4 Takeaways from Ann Kim's "Chef's Table" Episode on Netflix". Artful Living Magazine. 2022-09-08. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  18. ^ a b c Jones, Justine (2024-05-29). "Here's Why Workers Are Pushing to Unionize at Kim's [Updated]". Eater Twin Cities. Retrieved 2024-06-10.
  19. ^ a b Tribune, Emma Nelson Star. "Chef Ann Kim 'wholeheartedly believes' her Uptown workers don't need to unionize". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2024-06-10.

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