Meet the Morena family: Cruz, Oz and my loving husband Greg
I’m a lover of food (making it, eating it, sharing it), daughter of Korean immigrants, a wife and mother of two sons, who grew up in Southern California and literally married the boy next door.
At a young age, I realized the impact that delicious, home-cooked food has. Growing up with two immigrant parents, I watched my mom and dad work hard every day and yet always came home to make a beautiful meal for us to share as a family.
When I was young, I brought a plate of piping hot Korean-Style Beef I had made to the table. The expression of comfort, happiness and utter satisfaction on my father’s face made a lasting impression on me that I’ll never forget.
Koreans of my parents’ generation are not known for expressing emotion, so this type of validation given through the sharing of food was truly meaningful. In that moment, I realized that food was a powerful way to bring people together and to make them happy.
Growing up in Los Angeles’ melting pot exposed me to diverse cultural traditions and piqued my interest in many types of food. Throughout childhood, I helped my grandmother make dumplings, my mom prepare banchan (Korean side dishes), and explored the rich and varied culinary heritage that my hometown offered.
My first career was in fashion, and I owned and operated several stores within the iconic Fred Segal Santa Monica. Later my husband and I took over my parents’ 40 year old restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier, The Albright.
We own and operate The EST 1977 Group, a boutique restaurant group which specializes in revitalizing legacy businesses and curated food concepts.
Bringing family and friends together through food is the source of true happiness for me.
Though my cooking has evolved - from a kid helping at home, to a young adult learning her own personal style, to a mom and wife who feels passionately about cooking wholesome food for my loved ones – I still find the same satisfaction sharing the foods I learned to love growing up with my own family.
Now that I juggle work and family life, I am always looking for efficient and new ways to entertain and cook for my family and friends.
Starting my third career is both exciting and scary but I am following my heart.
Thank you for joining me on this journey and celebration of how food connects people, brings family together, and creates community.
- Yunnie Kim