Chef Chat, Part 1: Jin Ham

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Our previous Chef Chats have been inspiring talks with Houston's up-and-coming chefs in some of the more prominent restaurants in town. But there are other amazing chefs in town that aren't in the spotlight, many of them running family businesses, and we'd like to feature them too. Jin Ham, owner and operator of Shrimp Galley (5324 Telephone Rd.), has been offering seafood combos for Lenten followers for more many years, and we wanted to talk to him about his quick-service seafood business during this busy season.

Eating Our Words: How long have you been in the seafood business?

Jin Ham: I have operated Shrimp Galley for five-and-a-half years, and before that I owned Tony's Shrimp Galley for about six years.

EOW: What inspired you to operate your own establishment? It is a huge step most people won't take.

JH: We wanted something our family could operate, food-oriented. We did a lot of research over 18 months before we found something suitable to help raise our family. All in all, it came down to prayer. I did not have the experience or knowledge at the time that I do now. My options were limited and my family's well-being was on my mind.

EOW: What does a day off look like for Mr. Ham?

JH: We stay at the Korean Catholic Church most of our Sundays when we are closed. It is called St. Andrew Kim, and it is the only Korean Catholic Church in Houston. I am doing yard work right now, if that gives you any ideas on what else I do on my days off.

EOW: Has the seafood industry grown on you after over 12 years in operation?

JH: My wife loves the business, and she is my boss. So I hope that helps answer your question. What really happened is, after working as an engineer for so long, I ended up losing my job. I asked God what to do, and he replied with Tony's Shrimp Galley. I have not looked back since then. It is better this way though. Engineering was very boring!

Tomorrow we continue our conversation with Ham.

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