Chef Hee Chino Chang

Chef Hee Chino Chang

Photo by Eddy Marenco

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Philadelphia, PAPhilly Chef - Hee "Chino" Chang was born in South Korea and raised there for the first eight years of his life. From South Korea, his family moved into Pennsylvania, where he started his career in line-level hospitality as a busboy at Chi-Chi's at the age of sixteen.

Hee "Chino" Chang was born in South Korea

Chang then was accepted at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and immediately after graduating from The Restaurant School in West Philadelphia. From there, Chang worked at a restaurant in the center city called, The Pleasant Peasant. The Pleasant Peasant, now closed, was a high-end southern Asian cuisine-focused establishment that opened other locations in Atlanta, GA. After one year of being a line cook, the corporation moved Chang to Buckhead in Atlanta to train their new kitchen employees in a more casual concept called Mick's.

After three full years with that company, Chang was recruited by Dean Vlahos, owner of then Champ's Restaurant corporation and later Redstone Restaurant. Champs was Chang's first executive chef position. He was with Champ's Corporate for five years, where he also adopted the nickname Chino, which he goes by today.

New York City screams massive venues. Now that Hee Chang (Chino) has made quite the name for himself, Vanderbilt Catering and South Fin Grill specializing in seafood, wanted him to be their Executive Chef. For three years, that's precisely what he did.

From there, he received a phone call from his old friend, Dean Vlahos, to tell him about Redstone and the opportunity for Chino to be the Regional Executive Chef, something most chefs can only dream of. The producers for Hell's Kitchen frequently ate at Redstone and told Chino many times that he should work for Gordon Ramsey, and they were correct.

After packing up on the east coast and moving to California, Chino exceeded all expectations when suddenly, his Father fell ill six months into this position. Chino's Father eventually passed away, and he made a decision to stay where his family was. Brent Celek (former Philadelphia Eagles Player) ate at Redstone every Friday and loved Chino's food in his rookie years. He wanted to start his own restaurant and wanted Chino to be his partner.

From there, Prime Stache in Old City, Philadelphia was opened and then Bopped back in the same area of Chino's first line cook position. After six years and partnership turned to friendship with Brent Celek, mutual friends introduced Chino to Tim Lu.

Tim and Chino started one, two, three, and so on concepts together, including trademarking a delicious chicken burger as "Philly, Philly," the famous call that helped The Philadelphia Eagles win Superbowl 52. Today, Hee Chang is the Director of Culinary for GLU Hospitality and has been with Lu for three years with only plans of more food concepts and exponential growth for the future.

Also See: Figo Italian Opening on Northern Liberties Restaurant Row

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