Interview with Beard Award-Nominated Chef Joe Kim of Oregon’s 5 Fusion

This chef has become known as a 'culinary Peter Pan'

Kim's first cooking experience was at his father's sushi restaurants. 

5 Fusion & Sushi Bar in Bend, Oregon is all about, well, fusion. The dishes look more like art than food, but they are far too tasty to frame; they are most definitely for eating. Chef Joe Kim is at the helm in the 5 Fusion kitchen and prides himself on melding classic tastes and techniques with modern styles and flavors.

Like many chefs, Kim’s love of kitchen magic stems from spending time with him mom watching and cooking. Lucky for Kim, he was then able to work in his dad’s sushi restaurants. He loves all flavors from all around the world and yet remains grounded in his background in Japanese cuisine. Kim loves to travel and bases many of his itineraries on the restaurants he can visit and garner inspiration from.

Kim did not attend culinary school. Instead, he has learned from experience and the many chefs he’s worked with from around the world. He has garnered three James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef: Northwest, and has come to be known as “Peter Pan,” as he says he hopes diners will “get lost in the experience, to be in Neverland.”

The Daily Meal: From where did your love of all things culinary develop?
Chef Joe Kim: My love for all things culinary comes from childhood memories of cooking and the honesty of food.

What would you say is your overarching food philosophy?
If it tastes good, eat it. If you haven’t tried it, try it.

How would you describe the food culture and the culinary scene in Central Oregon?
The Central Oregon culinary scene is up and coming, growing alongside the small town it resides in. It has made leaps and bounds in variety and quality in the past few years.

How would you describe the vibe at 5 Fusion Sushi Bar?
It’s an upscale dining environment with a relaxed atmosphere.

Can you tell readers a bit about your menus, including the inspiration behind them and what you are hoping to achieve with their offerings?
Inspiration comes from my love of travel and love for food. I am hoping to give people flavors they have never had before, or in a way that is new to them.

What are some of your personal favorite menu items?
The live lobster sashimi is a favorite, as are the citrus glazed scallops with basil rice and pomegranate.


What are some of your favorite ingredients and/or cooking styles to experiment with right now?
I like to cook with the best ingredients possible and always focus on Asian ingredients. I am currently working with pickling different ingredients so I can use them throughout the year.