Thanks to Susan Kim, you wouldn't be out of line if you called Lauderhill, Florida's Little Korea. Though the west Broward enclave isn't quite as dense with Korean business as Little Korea in Los Angeles, Kim and her Korean (barbecue) restaurant Gabose have paved the way for the slew of Korean eateries, markets and shops that have opened over the past decade, which is why she is number 19 on our Tastemakers countdown.
South Floridians from up and down I-95 drive up to an hour and a half to grill beef, chicken or pork marinated in Galbi -- a sweet, soy-based sauce -- on in-table charcoal grills.
Kim makes annual pilgrimages back to South Korea to visit family and pick up a few new tricks. Her latest? House made tofu.
The most influential person in my career has been...
My mother. When we immigrated my parents were typically immigrant people. They worked very hard and my mom's lifelong dream was to have a restaurant. When she opened one 25 years ago she failed because of the little knowledge she had, but she learned how to cook and for a little girl to see that I thought it was so awesome. She's my inspiration and my model.
When I'm alone and in need of comfort (and no one is there to watch or judge), the one food or drink I turn to is...
I totally go for fries. They have to have truffle oil and Parmesan cheese.
What does the Broward/Palm Beach food scene need more of?
We have a lot of ethnic food, but it's all spread out. At the same time all the good things, all the trendy things that are happening but not on the west side. Everything has to be on the beach side [of town] and everybody shouldn't have to travel so much
You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?
The meatball trend. I think it's just horrible. I'm not Italian and I know they're supposed to be very comforting, but I feel like it was commercialized and there's something so chichi about it.
You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name, and what do you serve?
It would still be Gabose. I would serve Korean food very, very high class. It's basically Korean palace food. It's very natural where you get the natural flavor, simple garlic and sesame oil. You make the broth for 12 hours just for a tiny bowl of soup.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I think I'll be running three restaurants. All Korean restaurants.
Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?
I want to invite my mom, Barack Obama, Daniel Boulud, designer Steven Allen, Michelle Bernstein, and my father. He's always traveling so I wish I could have a sit down dinner with him.
New Times' Best Of Broward-Palm Beach 2013 issue arrives June 13. To celebrate, Clean Plate Charlie is serving up 30 of our favorite tastemakers -- restaurateurs, chefs, bartenders, and other foodies who make the South Florida food scene what it is. We'll start with number 30 and lead up to South Florida's number one. All previous 2013 Tastemakers are listed below.
22. Vaughan Lazar of Kapow!