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Korean cuisine sells in TGV train to promote traditional flavor

Korean cuisine sells in TGV train to promote traditional flavor

Posted June. 25, 2021 07:24,   

Updated June. 25, 2021 07:24


“Running on an express train, I am ready to promote the flavor of K-food across France,” said Korean French chef Pierre Sang Boyer in a dining car of a TGV train that had just arrived at Montparnasse station in Paris on Tuesday (local time). The French express train TGV and the cost-saving train Ouigo serve three types of lunchboxes devised by Mr. Boyer featuring Korean fusion dishes such as bibimbap with chicken meat, kimchi salad and pasta flavored with tofu and red pepper powder from June 9 to the end of this year.

French train operator SNCF closed dining cars in March last year as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination, however, on-train dining services have been normalized since June 9, showcasing Mr. Boyer’s K-food lunchboxes as part of its menu. It costs 13.9 euros (about 18,800 won). “As many as 35,000-plus servings have already sold for less than two weeks,” said the chef rejoicing about a high popularity of his inventions.

Adopted at the age of seven by French parents, a young boy from South Korea wanted to make his parents happy. He found the answer in cooking. Majoring in cooking at the University of Montpellier, he won the second title in the television competition show “Top Chef” in 2011, making himself climb to stardom. He owns five restaurants in Paris.

Collaborating with global celebrity chefs starting from 2016, SNCF reached out to Mr. Boyer in September last year. It is the first time that SNCF forged a collaborative relationship with a chef who has not been starred by Michelin, which is the Holy Book of global gourmets. Despite being a great opportunity, it did not come across as a welcome offer at first, he confessed. His concern was quality. As dishes selling on trains are not cooked right after served but prepared in large portions in advance, it is hard to ensure a constantly great level of taste and quality. However, when his wife Kim Hee-jin of South Korea talked him into promoting the appeals of Korean cuisine in every corner of France, Mr. Boyer changed his mind.

“Traditional Korean bibimbap features beef or pork. By contract, my focus is on serving nicely cold foods given what a train-selling lunchbox is like,” the chef explained about his chicken version bibimbap. He stated that Korean cuisine such as kimchi is well-received by French people as its health benefits have proved to boost the immune system amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Trying a novel dish is just like traveling around a new place. I am determined to inventing new foods characterized by Korean ingredients and Korean flavor,” he stressed.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com