Welcome to our little series of mini-interviews in which we take a shallow dive into the deep waters of different careers to give YOU a little insight into what the industry looks like from all sides.
Introducing SongSoo Kim, Head of Sourcing and Development at Super 8, the exciting group of restaurants encompassing Kiln, Smoking Goat and Brat. Their huge focus on produce, sourcing and sustainability means that they foster close relationships with farms and work towards a minimal waste approach which encourages practices such as whole animal butchery, preserving and more, and creates relationships that benefit everyone, not just the restaurant.
Where did your career start?
It started in NYC at an big installation artist studio I was working as a studio assistant, studio cat carer, and cook. At the time I was studying architecture and ran out of money and was really bummed out but everyone at the studio really encouraged me to cook saying that I was “really good”.
How did you arrive at your current position?
I’ve been working at Kiln for the past 3 years, I loved it especially as a cook to be working with tasty quality ingredients is not always a given. It just tasted great. I got to visit Gothelny farm on a company trip and was amazed by Fred Price’s farming practices. After the trip one day, inspired, I wrote to my friends and colleagues in South Korea, they run an urban farmer’s market platform and bring many farmers and consumers together and want to make a better food system. Ten people from South Korea came that year to see the farms Super8 was working with. It was amazing, and if I think about our situation now, it is more incredible for both my South Korean colleagues and Super8. I think my passion came across to my colleagues at the time and saw my genuine interest and thought I would be well suited for the role.
What is the best thing about your role at the moment?
One of the more unique parts of my role as Head of Sourcing and Development is the development side. I’ve been fermenting and preserving all my life, I think my mother fed us washed kimchi from the moment we could chew. At Super8 we can take seasonal abundances and respond by making preserves. My role is really replicating what all our ancestors used to do, to create a large larder. It’s just more difficult as we live in cities. But restaurants are kitchens to our urban community and should be able to do similar things we were once very good at doing. As a result, we can waste less and discover new flavors and maintain good gut health; at least that’s the hope.
What is the best thing about working at Super8?
I think we genuinely want to be better, it may take us time and work, but there are discussions about how to be better, what does it mean to be “better” and for what? whom? And when? I hope we can nurture that culture and solve problems collectively.
If you could work for anyone in the world who would it be?
What a tough question! I think it would be my grandmother. She passed away when I was quite young, she was the neighborhood grandmother ring leader. A great cook, great preserver, great gambler, and a great drinker- just boss.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting out in the industry?
I want to say KNOLL, which means organizing, but I’m veering towards the word LISTEN. I think once you knoll you can also be a better listener. I’m trying everyday.