Wynn Las Vegas Cuts Ties to Chef Min Kim for Alleged Sexual Harassment
Wynn Resorts has severed ties with a “Michelin star-recognized” chef, Min Kim, following allegations of sexual harassment.
Min Kim was the Executive Chef at Mizumi restaurant.
We are keeping the name of the victim under wraps out of respect for her privacy, but she is the Director of Restaurants at another Strip casino-resort.
Prior to these revelations, Chef Min Kim was a star in the culinary world. He trained in Australia, worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo and ran the kitchen at Mizumi at Wynn Macau, where he claims to have earned two Michelin stars (see bottom of our story for more).
He started working with Wynn Resorts in 2015.
We reached out to Wynn Resorts for comment about the harassment claims, and an official provided this statement: “Chef Min Kim resigned from the company in September at the conclusion of Min’s Test Kitchen to pursue another opportunity.”
Replace “resigned from the company” with “was shown the door for despicable behavior” and you get the picture.
If Kim was tossed in September 2023, why has it taken so long for this story to come to light? Well, that’s mostly because Las Vegas doesn’t have journalism. Awkward.
If you’re going to do something really stupid, Wynn is absolutely not the place to do it.
After casino mogul Steve Wynn stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts in disgrace, the company’s culture was turned on its head. The Steve Wynn scandal rocked the company to its core, and strong measures were put into place to try and prevent future sexual misconduct.
It’s possible Chef Min Kim didn’t get the memo.
We asked Wynn Resorts point blank if Kim’s “resignation” was due to sexual harassment. The answer: “Wynn Resorts takes any allegation of sexual harassment of any kind extremely seriously and has a zero tolerance policy regarding both our employees and guests.”
During Mizumi’s recent closure for a renovation, Kim did a pop-up concept, Min’s Test Kitchen, in the hotel’s Jardin space. Mizumi reopened in Sep. 2023, Min’s Test Kitchen ended, as did Kim’s time at Wynn Las Vegas.
A Web site for Min’s Test Kitchen now redirects to Wynn’s main restaurant page.
We trust Chef Min Kim thought he’d just move on to his next gig, and that may very well transpire. Telling is the fact only one prominent personality in Las Vegas caught any heat from the “Me Too” movement, Steve Wynn. One guy. In all of Las Vegas. (Trust us, many were shaking in their boots when the Steve Wynn story broke.) Wynn perpetuated his misdeeds for years before the Wall Street Journal story that brought his activity to light.
Why did it take the Wall Street Journal to do the story about Steve Wynn, rather than a local news outlet? Well, that’s mostly because Las Vegas doesn’t have journalism. Awkward.
Even when stories of sexual harassment are reported, Las Vegas has a very short memory. Skeevemaster General Todd English was booted from Las Vegas for a time (MGM closed Olives at Bellagio and rebranded Todd English P.U.B. at Aria to just P.U.B.), but came slithering back. He’s largely been booted again (Olives closed at Virgin, and he hasn’t been seen at the English Hotel in months), so there’s hope. English is now involved in a legal battle related to Emmitt Smith’s stalled restaurant at Fashion Show mall. Yes, we shared video of him being served legal papers. Do you know this blog at all?
Emmitt Smith restaurant legal kerfuffle heats up as former celebrity chef Todd English is served papers, denies he’s Todd English. Honestly, we would, too, if we were Todd English. pic.twitter.com/QlNbi0hXhe
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) November 16, 2023
Credit where it’s due: We’re sure there were reasons Wynn Resorts couldn’t or wouldn’t proactively trumpet its ousting Chef Min Kim (specifically, lawyers), but the company took the right steps to protect its staff and reputation by creating a culture where this kind of troglodytic behavior isn’t ignored or enabled as it was when Steve Wynn ruled the roost.
Why any chef, or any other person, acclaimed or otherwise, would risk their career in such a way, we have no idea.
We’re sure Min Kim would’ve preferred this episode never come to light. We do not, as our fellow youths say, give a shit. Accountability is the only way to end this endless cavalcade of WTF. Yes, humans are going to human, but Michelin stars don’t give anyone a hall pass.
Kim’s LinkedIn page doesn’t reflect the fact his relationship with Wynn Las Vegas has changed, but rest assured, it has. For good. Steve Wynn isn’t permitted to visit Wynn Las Vegas and we get the feeling Min Kim may be persona non grata as well.
Under Kim’s profile photo is the phrase “Chasing the perfection.” It’s a fine goal, but maybe next time, chef, make sure it’s consensual and keep your hands to yourself.
Update (12/7/23): Following the publication of our story, we were contacted by a chef who previously worked at Wynn Macau. We were informed, “Chef Kim never earned the two Michelin stars for Mizumi Wynn Macau, he was based at Mizumi Wynn Las Vegas which has yet to be recognized by the Michelin guide. Chefs [Hideki] Fujikawa, [Norihisa] Maeda and [Masakasu] Shimoda deserve the accolades for achieving two Michelin stars.” It seems the chef may have been fluffing up his resume, as this information was provided directly by Wynn Las Vegas. It seems Michelin stars are taken very seriously in the culinary world.