Kimball Brienza comes to the Lowcountry from Upstate New York. Born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Cooperstown, N.Y., Brienza’s eclectic mix of cultures led him to culinary school in New York. He moved to Charleston in 2001 with a firm understanding of the food-services industry, and quickly added southern food to his culinary repertoire as a server at Carolina’s.
Brienza met executive chef Jeremiah Bacon of the Indigo Road’s Oak Steakhouse and The Macintosh at Carolina’s, where the two worked together for almost 5 years. Over those years, Brienza worked his way up to bar manager and then assistant manager. He worked at the Boathouse for a year before moving to Oak Steakhouse and after two years there, Brienza was thrilled to join O-Ku and celebrate his Asian heritage with the restaurant’s team.
Named one of Esquire magazine’s 20 Best New Restaurants of 2010 and featured as a Travel + Leisure Top Sushi Restaurants in 2012, O-Ku has flourished under Brienza’s guidance with its commitment to showcase upscale, authentic Asian cuisine with a contemporary twist.