Memorial service set for Kim Korkan, former chef and co-owner of The Winds Café

A memorial service will be held this fall for Kim Korkan, the former co-owner and chef of The Winds Cafe in Yellow Springs, who died earlier this month after battling Parkinson’s Disease for more than a decade. She was 62.

Her business partner and Winds co-owner Mary Kay Smith said Kim “changed the way people in this area think about dining out.”

“The Winds was shouting the importance of local ingredients before there was a local foods movement,” Smith said. “She was a voracious reader, so from the very beginning was reading M.F.K. Fisher, Elizabeth David and of course, Julia Child and Simone Beck. Although very tied to her Sicilian heritage, her flavor combinations were unique and truly her own inspiration. She inspired many young, aspiring chefs and a whole tribe of dishwashers, always her personal favorites, as both of us started as dishwashers and never forgot their importance in keeping the kitchen humming.”

“I think a real tribute to Kim is the number of former staff, over her long career have written very touching notes and tributes to her quiet, kind ways,” Smith said. “One thing is for certain — I'm sure going to miss her.”

Kim Rose Korkan had battled an aggressive form of Parkinson's for about 12 years, and the disease had forced her to step away from her position overseeing the kitchen at The Winds. She died at her home on July 9, surrounded by loved ones, according to her obituary published in the Yellow Springs News.

Here are excerpts of that Yellow Springs News obituary:

"Kim spent the first 12 years of her life in Santa Monica, Calif. In 1969, the family moved to Beavercreek, where Kim graduated from Beavercreek High School and went on to spend one year at Wright State University. It was during this time that Kim first connected with the art of writing and began her lifelong practice of journaling. In 1977, she moved to Yellow Springs and started working at The Winds Cafe as a dishwasher. It was this inauspicious beginning that led to one of her greatest accomplishments, the lifetime pursuit that came to define her both professionally and personally."

"At The Winds, she very quickly exhibited a curiosity about food preparation and applied herself to learning to cook with Iko Wright. She eventually worked her way up to head chef and co-owner of The Winds with business partner Mary Kay Smith. Over a period of 35 years, combining a passion for food and wine pairing, they were instrumental in changing the trend of cooking and food preparation in Southwest Ohio."

"From the early 1980s, they enthusiastically partnered with local organic farmers, helping to foster an area-wide appreciation for the farm-to-table movement and support for local foods. In this same vein, they began a tradition of generous commitment to local causes, preparing dinners for benefit events for organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Tecumseh Land Trust."

"During Kim's tenure at the Winds, she mentored many aspiring chefs and frequently taught cooking classes at Dorothy Lane Market. Her love of cooking inspired many to continue in culinary pursuits as professional chefs or as confident home cooks. An avid reader, Kim spent countless hours reading cookbooks, recipes and restaurant reviews until the end of her life, always looking for ways to hone her craft. This practice was so strong and reflexive, that she continued it long after she was no longer able to eat. Just the idea of cooking and eating was enough to bring her joy."

"For the last 12 years of her life, Kim was severely challenged by her Parkinson's Disease and related ailments, and she dealt with what she referred to as a "rude interruption in our life" with grace and courage. She is remembered for her incredible generosity, kindness, thoughtfulness, sharp wit and zest for life, and has earned the love, respect and admiration of all who knew her."

... In lieu of flowers, a donation to Glen Helen Ecology Institute or Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center is suggested."

Mary Kay Smith said The Winds Cafe will likely host a gathering to celebrate Kim’s life at some point subsequent to a friends-and-family memorial service scheduled for early October in Yellow Springs.

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