About Us



Learn how you can train with Chef King Phojanakong



King Phojanakong is the chef-owner of two of NYC’s favorite restaurants, Kuma Inn in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Umi Nom in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. King is a New York native whose culinary influences began at home with the inspirational cooking of his Filipino mother and Thai father. Spending summers in the Philippines throughout his childhood furthered his interest in the culinary world and instilled the importance of community and culture.

A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and The City College of New York, he first pursued a career in energy management before deciding food and hospitality were his calling. King received his formal culinary education from the Culinary Institute of America, where he was elected group leader, selected as one of the “10 Best Student Chefs of the Year” and graduated dean’s list in 1998.

King went on to work with Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel and David Bouley at the Danube. Other kitchen stints include: Bouley Bakery, Jean-Georges, The Grocery, Cendrillon and Fatapples. He opened Kuma Inn in May 2003 and Umi Nom in late Summer 2009. King has been a featured chef on Bravo, The Food Network, The Cooking Channel, HGTV and PBS.

King works to support several charities focusing his efforts on hunger relief and culinary education including Spoons Across America, City Harvest, Healthy Kids and Grand Street Settlement. He has been an active member of the advisory board of Streets International, a New York based charity located in Hoi An, Vietnam that prepares street kids and disadvantaged youth for a career in the hospitality industry and Kelly Street Restoration, a Bronx based group working to provide accessible and healthy fresh food to local residents using the community garden and local farms.

In June 2010, Chef King was invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools anti-obesity campaign to help schools serve more nutritious, tastier meals.

Off the clock you’ll find him spinning and breaking to old school hip hop with his daughter or jamming away on his Fender Strat.


Michelin Guide 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Recommended
Zagat Survey 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Time Out New York, Eating and Drinking Guide 2004, 2005, 2008 Editor’s Choice, 2010 Eat Out Award Winner
The New Yorker, Tables for Two, Umi Nom, December 2010
Asian Journal, Top 10 LifEASTyle People of 2011

The New York Times:

• $25 and Under: Comfort Food the Southeast Asian Way, Nov. 18, 2009
• Dining: The Price Isn’t the Only Thrill, Dec 10, 2008
• Dining Out: When The Sour Note Is Just Right, July 12, 2006
• The NYT Magazine, Free Ranging: Pickled Mango Recipe, Aug. 7, 2005
• Good Eating/Lower East Side: Walk On The Mild Side, June 26, 2005
• Good Eating/When Less Is More, Nov. 7, 2004
• $25 and Under: Asian American Chef Makes Tapas His, Oct. 20, 2004

New York Magazine:

• Restaurants 2006, 50 Favorite Restaurants Under $30, 2006
• In Season: King Phojanakong’s, Thai Chile Lime Sauce, Oct. 3, 2005
• Best of New York, Dream Meals, March 14-21, 2005
• Where to Eat 2004, Jan 5, 2004
• Best Small Plates, Dec. 8, 2003
• The Underground Gourmet: Tapas This, Sept 15, 2003
• Cheap Eats NYC 2003: 100 Under $25, July 28, 2003
*Departures, Eating Small in New York, Nov/Dec 2008
*edible MANHATTAN, Chinatown Royalty, Jan/Feb 2009
*plate, Menu Spotlight: Pucker Up, Jan/Feb 2009
*New York Blade, Philippine Fusion, Sept 3, 2004
*New York Post, Kuma Right In, For Goodness Sake, Aug 6, 2003
*Generation Rice, Talk with Chef King Phojanakong, July 2003
*Daily News, Bites: Where To Go Ape For Year Of The Monkey, Jan 16, 2004
*Picky’s, Choice Meal: Kuma Inn, Dec 2004

*Filipinas Magazine:

• When Adobo Calls To Me, Dec 2003
• Expat’s Kitchen: Small Plates, Huge Flavors, August 2006

*IN New York:

• Prepare to Feast, Oct. 2005
• Off the Beaten Path, Dec 2004
*F&B World, Pinoys in New York, Nov-Dec 2003
*Strongfood, Andrea Strong Reviews Kuma Inn, Nov 21, 2004
*Voices of Lower Manhattan, Stepping into the Markets of Chinatown: Train to be a Chef ….or Just Shop Like One, Sept 22, 2003
*INQ7 Global Nation, Yes, it’s a 3-Star Pinoy Restaurant in New York, Nov 2004
*Wine & Spirits, Tasting Flights to Asia, Small Plates and Sake, Feb 2005
*Asian Food and Lifestyle, A Walk on the Asian Side in Lower Manhattan, Vol.7, May/June 2005
*Foodservice, Small Plates Provide Multiple Menu Choices, Aug. 2005
*Philippine News, Fil-Thai Chef Takes On Tapas, June 22, 2005
*Filipino Reporter, Michelob Honors Asian American Chefs With 2006 Calendar, March 17-23, 2006
*Food, King Of The Kitchen, May 2006
*AsianWeek, Wrapping Taste Buds Around King’s Ribs, May 26-June 1, 2006
*Philippine Daily Inquirer, More Pinoy Hot Stops In NYC, July 30, 2006
*Audrey, Looking for Lumpia, October/November 2006
*Altra, Bites of the Big Apple, Spring/Summer 2007

FEATURED CHEF on television and radio productions including:

*Channel 7 Eyewitness News (ABC)
*The Morning Show (WB11)
*Yahoo Television Commercial (Network and Cable)
*Good Morning America, assisted Jacques Pepin and Emeril Lagasse (ABC)
*Balitang America (ABS-CBN)
*Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius)
*Chopped (Food Network TV)
*Menus in the Media (NYU)

GUEST CHEF APPEARANCES in the retail sector including:

*Whole Foods Market
*Best Cellars
*Chef’s Central

CHARITY DONOR for national and international organizations including:

*Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
*AmfAR: The American Foundation for AIDS Research
*Action Against Hunger / Restaurants Against Hunger
*yKAn: Young Korean American Network
*Grand Street Settlement / Taste of the LES
*Share our Strength
*Healthy Kids
*City Harvest
*Asian Chefs Association
*Restaurants for Relief: Hurricane Katrina
*Food Bank for New York City
*AIWF Spoons Across America
*Project TAP
*Village Voice Choice Eats
*James Beard Foundation Greens

COOK BOOK contributing chef for:

*New Asian Cuisine, Fabulous Recipes from Celebrity Chefs,
Wendy Chan and Grace Niwa, International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, 2006

Photo credit to: Michael Harlan Turkell (http://harlanturk.com/)

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