Seoul, South Korea
When it comes to the centre of innovation, no other city comes close to that of Seoul in South Korea. With the newest trends on full display and the city awash in the latest cultural icons, the food scene has managed to maintain its classic taste without deviating too far from its rich culinary history.
Cho Yonsoon is the first chef we follow this episode, who talks us through her backstory including her husband’s business going under and her family swimming in debt. With their prospects bleak, Cho took charge and opened a food stall selling cut noodles, a delicious, hearty meal that became a staple dish during the Korean War when rice was scarce. Cho Yonsoon’s classic take on this dish is a version that pays homage to that classic cuisine.
Meanwhile, Gunsook Jung works the soy-marinated crab and side dish stall, passed along by her Grandmother who opened the stall 86 years ago. Originally created when there was no refrigeration, Gunsook talks us through the ferocious winter that threatened the business and her plans for the stall in the future.
Selling arguably the most popular Pakgane in the whole Gwangjang market, the mother/daughter team of Gumsoon Park and Sangmi Chu are a big hit in Seoul and the next pair of chefs we follow. Selling food that acts as a tribute to some of the most traditional Korean foods, we see their culinary techniques and gain a better understanding on what makes them so successful.
The final chef we catch up with made her dish by accident. After frying leftover rice in a waffle maker, Jo Jungja is a hopeful new face on the culinary market and ends the episode with a tinge of hopeful optimism, determined to force her way into mainstream appeal in a competitive and crowded market.
I’ve long been amazed by the beauty of Seoul as a city and this episode is no exception. The beautiful establishing shots do well to showcase how amazing this cultural centerpiece is and the food scene is as vibrant and authentic as one would wish from a city like this. Seeing the various chefs in their familial roles really hammers home that feel of family cooking and it’s something this episode in particular does really well of showcasing.