By the time Chris Oh had hit thirty he already had a real estate company and a few successful businesses to his name. But it wasn’t enough. Oh soon realized that he wasn’t fulfilling the larger-than-life aspirations that had always been a key component of his personality,
“I was fortunate to achieve a lot of goals,” he says, “but when I turned 30 I just said to myself, ‘Is this it, is this what I’m going to do for the rest of my life?’”
Oh knew the only way to realize his true potential would be to dive into something he felt passionate about, which was crafting food in the kitchen. The dream was born from a love for food that grew out of enjoying the flavors of his mother’s home cooking (who Oh refers to as “the best chef in the world”), the responsibility of feeding his little brother while his parents were hard at work, and a steady diet of cooking shows. Just like that, Oh threw away the life he built in his twenties, selling his business and his house before moving to LA and fibbing on a resume to get a job at a restaurant. That’s the level of commitment that it took to truly forge a new path that aligned better with his true aspirations.
“I really took a leap of faith,” he tells us, later adding, “the rest is history!”
That determination and commitment to purpose is precisely why Oh was chosen as one of The Next 9 by Porsche. In the years since dropping everything to chase a dream, he has entered the culinary scene and speedily established himself as a true innovator and a vital voice in modern cuisine.
“I have always had a can-do attitude,” he says. “If I don’t know it, I can learn it, and I can learn it fast and probably end up doing it better than you. Relying on that resume just got my foot in the door, and then I went from there.”
That confidence and drive led Oh down a path that would see the young chef go on to own several restaurants across the country including Um.Ma in San Francisco, Chingu in Hawaii, and Kamu in Las Vegas. This while scoring multiple wins across several TV cooking competitions. Still, Oh strives to take things to the next level: turning his personal brand into an icon.
“I want to put my stamp on this planet in an iconic way, like when you think of a brand like Porsche, you think handcrafted, sexy, cutting edge,” he says. “I want to be that kind of person and I think I’m on my way to those goals.”
As his aspirations grow, Oh is looking beyond the work he can accomplish in the kitchen. His true goal is to push Korean food and flavors to be enjoyed on a mass scale, crossing cultural borders in an effort to bring people together through the communal act of sharing a meal.
“Food is a common love, it doesn’t matter where you’re from,” he says. “We can talk food all day long because food has the power to bring people together… Korean food isn’t just bicoastal anymore. I want people in the Midwest or people in another country to have a jar of kimchi in their fridge.”
Oh knows that the only way to make that happen is the same way he’s achieved his success thus far, with hard work and determination, parting advice he shares for anyone who also finds themselves chasing their dreams.
“Find what you’re in love with, what you’re passionate about, what you’re willing to sacrifice for, and just go. Your dream job, your dream career, it’s not going to come easy. You’re going to have to bust your ass to get there, but once you do, the champagne sure tastes sweet.”
It doesn’t take long speaking with this rising star before you realize: True passion mixed with hard work is Chris Oh’s recipe for success.
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