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korean food / seoul / Episode 3. I left an IT company and became a “Japanese chef.” – 1251

Every person I meet brings the news that spring has arrived, and the chilly temperatures in the morning and evening only make me cringe. When I look up because I want to see the blue sky, I often just cough from my throat, which is rather dry due to fine dust and yellow dust from China. Maybe if these times continue, when our children color the sky, they will pick up yellow crayfish instead of blue?

“Above all else, you should pay attention to your health”

Even the daily weather reports end with a message urging people to take care of their health. The number of sick people is constantly increasing because the air is not good and there is a lot of dust. Even though I'm not a mine worker, I jokingly say that you have to eat pork belly to wash away the dust. Those of us who dream of a healthy life where we eat well and sleep well are not allowed to breathe at ease these days.

If you look at countries with high average life expectancy, such as France and Japan, there are plenty of places to eat. It literally means “food is a supplement.” There are sufficient conditions for steel materials to grow, even vast plains, seas, and sun-drenched ground.

In fact, food cooked with fresh ingredients is appealing enough on its own without adding irritating condiments or condiments. Therefore, the higher the average life expectancy, the more places that are rumored to be gourmet countries.

Among them, Japan is a country leading the way in eco-friendly cuisine using natural ingredients, and today I'd like to introduce “Hakata September,” a Japanese kaiseki cuisine specialty store.

Chef Kim Young-min, who is the CEO and owner-chef of Hakata September, responded to the interview. Let's meet the chef who unraveled the history of food and the compatibility of ingredients as if they were watching the “Japan” side of a distant neighboring country.

Hakata September

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View of the Hakata September store

Q. Please give us a brief introduction about Hakata September.

A. Hakata September is a place that serves traditional Japanese “kaiseki” cuisine. Kaiseki cuisine is a banquet dish derived from Japanese aristocratic culture, and it means a course meal made using five recipes (raw, steamed, grilled, fried, and stewed dishes) and five colors and five flavors.

This month's April theme is cherry blossoms. It's already the 61st “dish of the month” after opening the restaurant's doors.

Q. Your history as a chef is unique, but what led you to leave the company?

A. I think this is an official question from the interviewees. It's a question that came up 5 years ago when I first started a restaurant, but I left after working in an IT company for 15 to 16 years. Originally, I loved cooking, so I learned as a hobby, made, and cooked when I had time.

Then, by chance, I became a cooking instructor, and when I was preparing cooking ingredients for the class, I suddenly realized it. Unlike meat and vegetables, there aren't many people who prepare fish professionally. After learning how to care for fish, I took the Nakamuri 1st year expert course, and after studying in Japan for about a year, I went back to Korea and opened a restaurant.

Kitchen academy

Q. If you listen to the chef's history, I think his relationships with kitchen members are unique.

A. We jokingly call our kitchen a “military academy.” The cooking industry itself has a very high turnover rate, and I still have many friends among the members who opened the restaurant for the first time. By the way, the youngest children changed more than 10 people, but the moment they left, they definitely decided on their career path.

I didn't quit because my restaurant didn't fit, but I was split up with friends who said, “Ah, cooking isn't my path,” and left to find another job or to study in a wider world.

Also, I don't have much experience working with Japanese kitchen appliances, so I feel more comfortable working with kitchen staff who have higher careers than me.

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“Snowmono” from the April dish “cherry blossoms”

Q. You even have families, but were there any objections or trials around you when you took on a new challenge?

A. The personality itself is what you want to do. Twenty years ago, going to college according to your grades, getting a job, getting married to everyone else, and starting a family was something you just took for granted. So I thought I should retire sooner. I thought I should finish work and go to Italy to learn how to cook.

Then I got a chance and went to Japan and opened a store, but I thought I'd rather try and close it soon if I'm going to regret it because I didn't get it right. I thought I'd definitely go to Japan no matter how late I was.

Q. Do you have any regrets now that you have achieved your dream?

A. What is certain from living my life until now is that I have no regrets if I live my life doing what I want to do. I felt like I was wearing someone else's clothes when I lived at the same level as other people's eyes.

There are two things I don't regret in life: opening a Hakata September and getting a tattoo.

Memento mori

Q. Oh, did you get a tattoo too? Memento mori?

A. Yes. This is a Latin combination of the words MEMORY and DEATH. It is said that in Roman times, when a general was victorious, a slave gave a bouquet of flowers at the end of a street march. It means to live without forgetting death, “Let's not stop at this moment and live doing what we want to do even harder.” I think it means. Because everyone dies, and they won't come back today.

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“Hasson” is the second course in the April dish “Cherry Blossom”

Q. Among the many Japanese cuisines, is there a reason why you are particularly particular about kaiseki?

A. Of course, there's a reason why Eunsa, who I want to look like the most, cooks that food in Japan, but it's also because I think kaiseki cuisine most closely resembles Japanese attitudes. Capturing the sincerity of the people who caught fish and raised the crops in one dish. Using seasonal ingredients so that you can fully enjoy the season until that season.

I think true kaiseki cuisine is a dish that captures the sincerity of all the people who went through to create one dish so that you can feel the same.

Q. However, when it comes to kaiseki cuisine in Korea, there are parts that are difficult to easily approach.

A. That's right. Actually, seasonal ingredients are the same, but it's very difficult to get monthly ingredients. There's also the issue of the variety of ingredients, and things like dishes and accessories have to be changed together, but even if you buy them from Japan, there are always issues of time and money. Also, there are customers who don't understand the dishes that change from month to month.

That's why more than half of the people who visit our restaurant are regular customers. I don't think cultural artists who share their philosophy through food have settled in yet. It's the biggest regret I feel.

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Hakata September Chef “Kim Young-min”

Q. So what led you to start dining cards?

A. Ah, I thought it was a new opportunity to meet a diverse customer base from the perspective of our restaurant, which has many regular customers. In the past, most of them had a conservative marketing plan that was based on word of mouth.

However, I started at first sight because I thought synergy could be created if a new platform was added. From the customer's point of view, a new payment method is being created.
A. It is a business model that is not cost-effective compared to the time spent, leaving aside the problems of making more money, and there are often operational difficulties. Over and over again, there were crisis situations where we had to stop. However, I think we should continue to work hard for the heartfelt words of customers who wish they could eat food from this place next month and for the various stores that benchmarked Hakata September.

I hope that there will be more customers who can share this kind of food story in the future, and that a culture where people can share their philosophy about food will be formed. Finally, I want to continue to be proud that I made a positive contribution to Japanese food in the restaurant market.

In the next section, I'll also introduce a great date course to go on a warm day. Don't forget to pack a meal today too!
A warm food culture where you can share the heart not only of the person who made the food, but also of the people who grew and prepared the ingredients. Like a scene from a fairy tale book I used to watch when I was a kid, Shikigami will work with me so that we can share our feelings in front of food.



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