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‘Identity is Key in Globalizing Korean Food’

Posted November. 12, 2009 06:09,   


○ Establishing identity of Korean food

The Dong-A Ilbo interviewed yesterday chefs at the country’s major hotels, including Lotte Hotel Seoul, the Sheraton Grand Walkerhill, Renaissance Seoul, and Grand Ambassador Seoul on how to globalize Korean food.

They all stressed the necessity to find the identity of Korean food, saying questions such as “What is Korean food,” “What are the characteristics of Korean food,” and “What makes Korean food really Korean” should be answered first.

Shim Chang-shik, a chef at Grand Ambassador Seoul, said, “The globalization of Korean food is often viewed as making fusion food,” adding, “If Korean food is rightly appreciated, Korean dishes can be served with foreign food without alteration.”

○ World-renowned Korean chefs needed

They also emphasized the importance of fostering world-class chefs in Korean cuisine. If Korean chefs make their name on the world stage, the globalization of Korean food will naturally be realized, they added.

The Korean government agrees with this idea, yet only operates a chef training program that lasts just two or three months.

A trainee for the program jointly run by Yonsei University, Woosong University and the Walkerhill Hotel said, “The program is poorly run because it was set up without much preparation. Certain trainees struggle with the program’s purpose, which is to nurture world-class chefs, because many of them are CEOs and corporate executives.”

○ Food and medicine have same origin

Though agreeing on the necessity for further discussion and studies, they said the identity of Korean food should be sought through “well-being” or healthy foods. Chef Lee Geum-hee said, “Unlike Western food, Korean food needs more effort and ingredients carefully chosen. So it costs a lot but Korean food in and of itself is well-being food.”

They seemed to mean that the identity of Korean food can be established by reviving the philosophy of Korean ancestors that food and medicine have the same origin.

Korean food is growing in popularity overseas. In Japan, Korean food is so popular as healthy food, a Korean restaurant run by CJ Food System that opened last year is second in sales among restaurants at Narita International Airport near Tokyo.