SIMON SIJUN KIM

PROPRIETOR

Born in Seoul, Korea, Simon grew up in Manhasset, Long Island. Raised by a family that appreciates great art and food, he developed his passion for the industry at a young age. Simon acquired his first restaurant experience at Kori, his mother’s small restaurant in Tribeca. To further his knowledge and education, Simon went on to earn a degree in Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas while he concurrently worked at the front office and in the food and beverage department of the MGM Grand.

After graduating, Simon returned to New York where he joined BR Guest Restaurants as the manager of Blue Fin in W Hotel Time Square. He then went on to work with Jean-Georges Management as a manager at Matsugen and later The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges. Before opening Piora, Simon worked with the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group as the operations manager of Bouchon Bakery.

At Piora, Simon draws upon his passion for hospitality to provide memorable dining experiences, which he believes are a result of a basic element: care. When he is not on the floor at Piora, he is spending time outdoors, cherishing nature. Photographer: Philip Lewis/Bloomberg

CHRISTOPHER CIPOLLONE

CHEF PARTNER

Growing up in New York’s bountiful Hudson Valley, Chris always knew he would become a chef, having learned from an early age to appreciate the local and seasonal ingredients that surrounded him. His parents, both wine industry professionals, encouraged him to attend the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating at the top of his class, he received a sponsorship from Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani, a non-profit organization dedicated to popularizing authentic Italian cuisine, to travel throughout Italy for two months to study the country’s food and wine.

Chris returned to Westchester where he trained under Chef Wiliam Saverese in progressive French cooking technique at Le Cremaillere. He then went on to revamp Auberge Maxime, and later, open Vox. Looking to join the NYC restaurant scene, Chris left Vox in 2006 to run the kitchen at Dylan Prime for four years, after which he accepted the chef de cuisine position of Chef Scott Conant’s Fautina at The Cooper Square Hotel. He then partnered with general manager Jeffrey Tascarella to open Tenpenny in 2011. It was there that he met Simon Kim, and the idea of Piora was born. Chris thrives on the artistry of cooking and believes that food should fun.

When he is not in the kitchen, Chris loves to learn about the food of other cultures by exploring New York City, dining with friends, reading and traveling.

VICTORIA JAMES

CHEF SOMMELIER

Victoria became certified as a Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2012 when she was just twenty. Victoria became a cellar hand and bartender at downtown Manhattan’s Harry’s Cafe and Steak where she helped inventory proprietor Harry Poulakakos’ legendary wine collection. She was then offered a sommelier position at Charlie Palmer’s Michelin-starred Aureole in New York.

After a year at Aureole, she took a sommelier position with Michael White’s Altamarea Group, first at Ristorante Morini and then at his flagship Marea, which holds two Michelin stars and three stars from The New York Times. While at Marea, she was named one of Zagat’s prestigious “30 under 30” list for New York City.

A keen competitor, she has also won the Ruinart Sommelier competition and Best Sommelier of the Languedoc Roussillion competition. Victoria joined the Piora team in the fall of 2015. She oversees a wine list featuring 300 labels from small producers in Italy, France and the United States with a special focus on Champagne.

Kenneth Vanhooser

Principal Bartender

Born and raised in Nashville Tennessee, Kenneth Vanhooser started early in the hospitality industry: slinging drinks in a fast-paced, event driven barbecue restaurant and local music venue on lower Broadway. Upon arriving in the New York cocktail culture scene in 2011, Kenneth honed his craft, delivering well thought-out and executed libations with that same charm and southern hospitality.

Kenneth has had the fortune of working with top-named and Michelin star rated chefs such as Chris Cipollone (both at Tenpenny and now Piora) and Daniel Boulud (Dynex Group) in the comfort of fine dining atmospheres. Kenneth is currently behind the stick here at Piora in the West Village, now the conductor of all things spirit-and-cocktail related.

Having previously worked alongside and under the direction of Shinya Yamao, Kenneth still holds true to the art and techniques of classic Japanese bartending and the signature style that has become Piora’s essence and base for an inventive and seasonal bar program unlike any other. He not only loves a drink in hand, but also combining his love for the art of the bar with his own personal pursuits in fine art printing through an array of printing methods. Kenneth believes his approach to cocktails mirrors that of fine art prints. Sometimes you can create a masterpiece, but you need to be able to reproduce that masterpiece and get it into as many hands as possible in order for others to enjoy your labor of love. Some offerings may only be created in editions and seem only to find their way into select groups; others may only be created for a single person, capturing their personal taste.

“If you can find a way to include art, creation and creativity in everything that you do, you can, and will never be bored.”