Page 4 - Hawaii Island MidWeek - Oct 13, 2021
P. 4

     It was 1971 when Mike Irish’s life changed forever. As a freshman football player for Universi- ty of Hawai‘i, he sustained an impact injury that broke his neck and left him paralyzed from the neck down.
an experience I’m glad I could overcome, and I feel very
of kimchi brands such as Parks, Kohala and A-1 in the process. So cemented is the fermented foods icon in the kimchi scene that a documentary filmmak- er recently tapped him for in-
“(My brother and I are) co half Korean, and she con- an sidered us her kid brothers,” Ka says Irish, who grew up eat-
ing his Korean mom’s home- made kimchi. “I didn’t know what (Parks Brand) was, and Alice said, ‘What kine Kore-
an you?’”
food industry with no expe- ‘W rience, chalking up his suc- ki cess to hard work, persever- lo ance and, again, a little bit of Iri luck. He bought Park’s Brand
in 1984 at the urging of the tan lateAliceYang—thecreator wh of Chicken Alice, which uti- pu lizes Park’s Brand Kimchee act Sauce. lat
wh m ch wo ot
wr wa
Iri Jo ap su Ko
“I owe a lot to REHAB,”
sight on the dish.
For someone so suited to
Less than a month later, Irish was the “kine” Korean SEE PAGE 5
 shares Irish, who sat on the organization’s board for a decade.
satisfying generations of lo- cal palates, Irish entered the
   “I thought I’ d never walk again, which gives you a whole different perspective on life,” he recalls.
That shift in outlook has stayed with him till this day — demonstrated by his nev- er-give-up attitude and desire to help others whenever pos- sible (he also still sits on the board of Hawai‘i Community Foundation) — and serves as the foundation on which he built his local food empire.
  With the help of doctors and staff at Queen’s and Re- habilitation Hospital of the Pacific, Irish put in the work and, with a little bit of luck, regained full mobility of his limbs.
Known as “King of Kim- chi,” Irish has been keeping the flavors of Hawai‘i alive as head of Halm’s Enterpris- es, perpetuating the legacies
   “I know I was very fortu- nate,” he humbly says. “It’s
All the kimchi made within the umbrella of Halm’s Enterprises is packed by hand and taste-tested at least twice a week by CEO Mike Irish himself.
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