The Danimal Rants: Young Korean Chefs, Get the Heck out of KoreaWednesday, June 01, 2011
Disclaimer: The Danimal speaks from the heart and there is a good chance he has had way too many cups of coffee (or whisky). The Danimal's opinions are his own and not reflective of the other writers of Seouleats.
I was at a very posh restaurant in Korea the other day and I had hopes for the cuisine. I won't mention the restaurant yet, but I am sure you'll figure it out in the next few weeks. I was hoping for a molecular and modern twist on Korean cuisine, but what I received was European cuisine modernized for the Korean palate.
I am not blaming the chef- the food was great, but something made me want to scream out, "Do something with Korean food!" Then I realized it was not the time nor the place.
The place I am talking about is Korea. So please listen:
Young Korean chefs with dreams of globalizing Korean cuisine, those with hopes of opening up restaurants overseas, those that would like to have a slice of the "dream;" go west, go east, go south, go north- go anywhere other than here.
The world is ready for Korean cuisine- and when I say that, I mean REAL Korean cuisine. As a person that meets about a thousand foreigners a month through our culinary tour company, I can tell you this as a fact. Korean chefs with a dream of taking the food overseas, go now. People understand the concept of Korean food and "kimchi, bibimbap, japchae, Korean BBQ, etc" are all buzzwords. You can be a celebrity on your own little island.
Chefs, don't wait for the government to "globalize the food." Through all of their mishaps and grandiose plans, they have actually set the stage for you. The world is not ready for "franchise Korean restaurants" or a government supported top tier restaurant in New York City (which would cost tax payers millions of dollars and ultimately FAIL.)
The world is ready for Korean bistros and soup bars and bibimbap bars (using local ingredients). They are ready for Dakgalbi and Jjimdak and even hwae tteokbap. They are ready for you to give them banchan and fried chicken and much more. They are ready if you are able to package it nicely and present it in a language they understand.
Take a chance! Go North, Go West, Go South, Go East!
Because the idea of globalizing Korean Food in Korea is as redundant as a Kangaroo with a Pogo Stick.