On Saturday, August 8 KREAM Kimchi officially launched. An acronym for Kimchi Rules Everything Around Me — the new project from long-time industry vet Virgil Dickerson has been quietly building, with the official release acting as the coalescence of a concept many years in the making. Serving two varieties of expertly-fermented cabbage, both online and at the Penn Street Market, KREAM has been drawing justifiable acclaim both on social media and amongst some of the city’s top chefs.
Initially developed as a way for Dickerson to spread love at the onset of quarantine, KREAM has snowballed quickly. After hand-delivering 500 jars of his homemade kimchi to a massive network of mostly friends and industry contacts, Dickerson realized the stuff had real potential. “I guess I have a new hobby, delivering kimchi by bike to my friends,” he laughed. “Almost immediately people were like you should start a business,” Dickerson continued.
Early cosigns by Yuan Wonton‘s Penelope Wong and Ritual Tattoo’s Sandi Calistro helped draw attention, the kimchi’s legitimacy immediately was bolstered by its supreme clientele. Calistro — who recently lent her talents to the utterly stunning Babe Walls — would go on to contribute a design to further freshen KREAM’s already sleek labels.
Each jar is conspicuously hand-marked with a “bottled while listening to” section. Inspired by an early practice from Stranahan’s, Dickerson hopes it will act as a good indicator of the massive amount of heart that goes into the project. He also hopes it’ll be used as an opportunity to help customers discover new music. While the range of included artists reveals the genre-spanning knowledge of a true crate digger, Mac Miller, Frank Ocean and local star-in-the-making Kayla Rae have all been known for their repeat presence.
Dickerson’s commitment to music runs deep. Between 1995 – 2011 he ran Suburban Home Records, releasing over 190 projects from artists including Portugal. the Man, Minus the Bear and Every Time I Die. He also booked the University of Colorado Boulder’s Club 156 and as an early subscriber to pop-punk brought in Blink-182 to play the tiny venue. After moving to Denver he opened Bakamono, a record store on Colfax and Vine that opened in the summer of 1998 and closed the following year. While his attention has since veered away from the business, a passion for all things music still clearly informs much of his creative output.
After closing the record label, Dickerson switched gears, working for eight years as marketing director for Illegal Pete’s, where he spearheaded both the Starving Artist Program and the Greater Than Collective. Most recently he acted as marketing director for Carbondale’s Marble Distilling and as a city manager for the Passport Program. While COVID-19 has done no favors to anyone not working for Charmin or Netflix, the additional time afforded by a furlough did allow Dickerson to turn what might have otherwise been a passion project into an immediately viable business.
While Dickerson says he’s made a few updates and tweaks over the years, the man’s method was largely inherited from his mother Chae Dickerson, who immigrated from Seoul to Fountain, Colorado when he was a toddler. She still holds a position in The Broadmoor’s kitchen after a 35-year residency. KREAM being a true family affair, Dickerson’s 14-year old son Logan Dickerson has been helping with labeling the growing number of jars. “He’s not always excited to do it,” he smiled. The kimchi is produced out of his home kitchen, operating under a Cottage License.
The recipe combines cabbage, daikon, garlic, green onion and ginger which then spend 72-hours in a fermentation vessel. Arriving in both regular and vegan varieties, the two-run a similar track, with the vegan replacing fermented shrimp paste with red miso. “This week alone I’ve bought nearly 400 pounds of cabbage,” he laughed. An ongoing blog is set to convert many of his mother’s deeply-ingrained dishes into recipes.
With the kimchi landing to such immediate acclaim, Dickerson plans to institute a subscription service, hopefully within the month. A commercial kitchen space is set to follow by the end of the year, with aims to expand the product into grocery stores and restaurants. Little Greene Mart — a pop-up featuring KREAM, Oh Golly Dumplings, vintage goods from Lady Bird Vintage and DJ set from Milky.Wav — will take place this Saturday at Fort Greene.
Even with kimchi’s surge in popularity creating brands by the dozen, KREAM is one fit to truly make the city proud.
KREAM Kimchi retails for $12.99 and is available each Saturday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Penn Street Market at 95 South Pennsylvania St., Denver. It also can be purchased online.
Little Greene Mart occurs Saturday, August 22 from 3 – 8 p.m. at Fort Greene at 321 East 45th Ave., Denver.
All photography by Alden Bonecutter.