The recreational diver who went missing in Mukilteo, Washington, earlier this month has been identified as beloved Seattle chef Hans Korompis.
The Mukilteo police and fire departments received a diver-in-distress call near Lighthouse Park in Mukilteo at around 9:15 a.m. on June 17. Nathan Fabia, a spokesperson for the Mukilteo police, said two divers had entered the water during the morning of the call, but only one of them – a 33-year-old Everett man – was found uninjured on the shore.
Several members of multiple groups, including the Coast Guard, the sheriff’s office dive team and the Washington State Ferries, conducted a search after the other diver, later identified as Korompis, 33, remained missing.
Authorities halted rescue operations later that afternoon amid poor weather conditions and low visibility before continuing their search the following day. Over a week since he was reported missing, Korompis’ body has yet to be found.
“Hans has left a huge, empty void in our hearts, and we’ll probably forever be that way,” Shubert Ho, a restaurateur in Edmonds, Washington, who serves as a spokesperson for Korompis’ family, told King 5 News. “I was absolutely devastated and sad. I kept hoping for the best that they would find him… He worked his way up, and he’s basically someone we put in charge of an entire brand. He was very special.”
Korompis, who came to the United States from Singapore at the age of 20, began his career as a chef under renowned Seattle chef Tom Douglas. He then worked for Ho’s Feedme Hospitality Restaurant Group in 2015 and later became the director of Ho’s restaurant Market, which now has four locations.
Ho told The Seattle Times that Korompis was “the most calm and collected and quiet guy under any circumstance; especially when it came to the daily rush and getting things done.”
“People really looked up to him. He had a knack for taking those who hadn’t cooked before and training them up to be really great,” Ho added.
Alex Marek, the person who hired Korompis to work at Ho’s Salt and Iron in Edmonds, said it was one of the best hires he has ever made.
“He clearly had a way of being in the kitchen that inspired everyone around him,” Marek told Eater Seattle. “We all still try to work like Hans. It was just a really admirable thing.”
Korompis has left a legacy through the dishes he served at Market, which Ho built for the late chef in 2018. One of his most notable dishes is his internet-famous lobster roll served at the Seattle Art Museum.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help Korompis’ family cover “legal matters (probate), mortgage payments, possible relocation, and any other unforeseeable costs.” The campaign has raised $22,392 of its $27,000 goal as of this writing. Feed Me Hospitality and Restaurant Group has also set up a memorial web page for the late chef.
Featured Image via @hanzocooksandeats