This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Yim Jungsik joined the South Korean army at the age of 18. He’d never cooked before. His superiors ordered him to cook at the barracks because the cooks were all on leave, and that was his first contact with cuisine.
That was at the end of the 1990s. Today, his two restaurants, the Jungsik in Seoul (with one Michelin star), and the Jungsik in New York (with two Michelin stars) are the most obvious examples of the immense and extraordinary path this chef has followed in the past 20 years.
Journalist Priscila NG tells us in the South China Morning Post about this story of overcoming and of success through an interview with the chef himself, in which he explains, among many other things, what his main influences are.
“If I had to name one particular influence, it would be one-Michelin-star restaurant Zuberoa, in the Basque Country, Spain. They make traditional Basque-style cuisine. I was so inspired there that I was able to create the concept of the ‘new Korean cuisine’ within 10 minutes.”
You can’t say it any more clearly, how profoundly influential Basque cuisine and the Zuberoa Restaurant in particular were for him. Nor could it be any clearer to the readers of this Hong Kong daily, which has a huge influence in East Asia.
South China Morning Post – 11/8/2017 – Hong Kong
How army life gave Korean chef behind Jungsik brand his passion for food
How did you become a chef? “In 1998, I enlisted in the Korean army, where I stayed for 26 months. The cooks at the military base I served at were on holiday for two weeks and I was asked to take over the catering. That was my first time grabbing a knife and cooking, and it was so much fun it didn’t seem like work.