On the Line: Steve Kim of The Cut, Part One

When you have a passion for your craft, does that truly differ from someone with a more formal education? I don't think so. It's simply two points of view on the same subject. Businessman and burger guy Steve Kim gives my questions a go.

Why burgers?
Burgers aren't a “fad food.” They're an American staple, and we'll always love burgers. We reverted to a food truck when we found ourselves at the mercy of the real-estate market. We couldn't find the right space in a suitable location. Charlie [one of his business partners] convinced me to start with a food truck.

What's the one thing people didn't tell you about working on a luxe lonchera?
All the politics involved with bookings.


What is your long-term goal: Expand your fleet? Become a brick-and-mortar? Or?
Both! We intend to expand our fleet, and I am pursuing brick-and-mortar at the moment.

One food you can't live without:
Besides the obvious answer of the Cut burgers, Korean food. I grew up on it.

Most undervalued ingredient:
Our two main ingredients: quality and freshness.

Any restaurants you've been wanting to check out?
Gulfstream. Someone told me it has an amazing burger. I want to see for myself.

Where was your most recent meal?
Fish and chips from Union Jack's in Costa Mesa.

Most indispensable kitchen utensil:
A knife.

Are all burgers cooked to the same doneness?
Medium to medium-well, unless specified or requested.

Where does the restaurant's name come from?
When creating our concept, I wanted to set us apart from other burger concepts by aiming to be “a cut above the rest.” Where others would fall short, we would “make the cut.”

I thought of traditional times, before mass production, before all the hormone and antibiotic use. When people would simply go to their local butcher, have them grind up some beef and have what I imagine to be amazing burgers.

With focus on quality and freshness, we decided to use all-natural, select cuts of Angus beef — brisket and chuck, in our case — and to grind our beef in-house. Then I thought to take it a step further. What if we were to butcher the meat ourselves? That would ensure “straight from the cutting block” freshness.

These values of quality, freshness and craftsmanship would become the identity of our brand.

What restaurant industry experience (or applicable skills) do you have?
This food truck and I eat out a lot.

One stereotype about your industry and whether it's true:
Food trucks are overpriced. I think there are some that may be overpriced. As for the Cut, definitely not if you think about the quality and work that goes into producing our product.

What was the first meal that you made that you were proud of?
Jamaican beef patties from scratch.

What would be your last meal on Earth?
A pie of NY pizza, a triple “Beast Mode” burger from the Cut and some Korean barbecue. You did say last meal, right?

To learn more about the Cut, visit www.the-cut.com.

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