Tim Flores grew up just outside of Chicago with his parents, who immigrated from the Philippines in 1975. His first experience in professional kitchens was polishing dishes at GT Fish & Oyster between college semesters in Iowa. After graduation, Flores returned to Chicago and transitioned to GT’s kitchen, where he met his future wife and business partner, Genie Kwon, as she ran the restaurant’s pastry wing. Kwon, a native of New Orleans, graduated from Newbury College’s culinary management program in Massachusetts. By the time she found herself working alongside Flores, Kwon had cut her teeth at Flour Bakery & Café, Nobu 57 and Eleven Madison Park.
In 2014, Flores moved on to work as a line cook at Senza while Kwon served as the pastry chef at BOKA and netted a Jean Banchet Rising Pastry Chef of the Year award. In 2016 they helped open Oriole-a fine dining restaurant that earned 2 Michelin stars in its first year.
In 2018, Flores and Kwon left to conceptualize a space of their own. After two and a half years, they built that space in the Ukrainian Village and named it Kasama, meaning “together” in Tagalog. Kasama is a reflection of both Genie and Tim’s culinary backgrounds as a bakery and restaurant that serves modern Filipino food inspired by the food Tim grew up eating.