Samuel Kim was named executive chef of 1789 Restaurant, the Georgetown culinary landmark at 1226 36th St. NW, in the summer of 2014.
Tell us about your career path.
Kim: I started my career in finance. I’m from Potomac, Maryland, originally. Shortly after, I decided to leave my investment banking job in New York to follow my passion for food. After coming to D.C., I walked into 1789 and without any kitchen experience asked chef Ris Lacoste for a job.
Luckily, she saw something in me and put me right to work. A couple of years later, I headed back up to New York City and spent the better part of the next decade working for Michelin-starred restaurants in Manhattan. In 2014, I got a call from my old friends at Clyde’s Restaurant Group. They were looking for a new chef for 1789. Soon after, Clyde’s Restaurant Group officially asked me to return to Washington, D.C., to serve as executive chef of 1789 Restaurant. This brought me full circle to where my career began.
What is your specialty and why?
Kim: I’m classically trained in French cooking. You’ll notice other influences on my menu, such as some Asian flavors I grew up with, but my cooking is rooted in French technique.
What’s up next for you?
Kim: My team and I are very focused right now on the restaurant expansion that will begin this summer. It is an exciting project, and one that I think will really benefit the community. The renovations include first-floor bathrooms in 1789 and the addition of a large bar.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
Kim: I love duck. It is really a special animal. While technically a bird, you treat it like meat. It’s incredibly rich and flavorful.
What’s the best part about being a chef?
Kim: Every day is different. While I love math and numbers, I couldn’t picture myself spending each day behind a desk staring at four computer monitors. In the kitchen, all of my interests intersect. Art collides with hospitality, business and even science. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a talented team and dining rooms full of interesting people every night.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you at 1789?
Kim: Interesting and crazy is the norm. Every night is a new experience, with new challenges. We welcome guests from all over the world — celebrities, politicians, Georgetown University faculty, students and parents. Nothing seems out of the ordinary after a while.