As a little girl, I learned how to make Kimchi from my grandmother. She was from PyongAn province, a part of North Korea now. When the Korean war broke out, she and her family escaped South to avoid the North Korean soldiers. They settled down in a small village very close to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with the hope that when the war was over, they could return to their hometown. She ran a small restaurant serving Korean and American soldiers near the army base and I was her favorite kitchen assistant.
This childhood experience has influenced me and my life in many different ways.
I moved to the U.S. in 2003 and decided not to go back to the corporate world. I instead attended culinary school and started my career as a chef. I was fortunate enough to work under a very talented Austrian-born master chef, Fritz Gitschner for three years.
My husband and I moved to San Francisco from Houston in 2007 and I worked for a time as a line cook at Aqua, a two Michelin starred restaurant in the Financial District. Since leaving Aqua, I have been working as an event chef for Paula Le Duc Fine Catering.
In 2008, the world was hit by the economic crisis and so was my job. In order to help make ends meet, I started selling my homemade Kimchi to my Korean friends who were so fed up with store brand Kimchi that is full of MSG and preservatives. Soon, friends of my friends asked for my Kimchi and my husband’s non-Korean colleagues also began buying my Kimchi.
This experience enlightened me and helped me see my grandmother’s food from a totally different perspective.
In 2010, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life, to build a company around what I learned from my grandmother and what I know and love the most. Reunification in Korea has not happened yet and my grandmother passed away without ever visiting her hometown. I hope to pass on her passion for great food and serving people.