Michelle Zauner is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who records dreamy, melancholic indie pop under the name Japanese Breakfast. She’s also a talented writer whose debut book, a memoir titled Crying in H Mart, is being published by Knopf this spring. In it, she recounts her experiences growing up half-Korean in her mostly white town of Eugene, OR, her path to becoming a musician and her struggle to reclaim her Korean heritage after her mother’s early death from cancer. From her home in Brooklyn, Michelle talks to Catherine and Juliana about her idyllic childhood summers in Seoul, her tumultuous relationship with her mom, her channeling of grief into creativity and the importance of Korean role models in her life, from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen Oh to You Tuber Maangchi. Stay tuned to the very end, when she shares her favorite snacks and staples from H Mart! Photo credit: Peter Ash Lee
Edward Lee is the acclaimed chef of several restaurants in Kentucky and the DC area, most notably Louisville’s 610 Magnolia, where he first made his mark on Southern cuisine almost 20 years ago using ingredients such as gochujang and soy sauce aged in whiskey barrels. He won a James Beard award for his 2018 book Buttermilk Graffiti and he was nominated for an Emmy for his work hosting the PBS series Mind of a Chef. Lee is also the co-founder of a remarkable nonprofit called The Lee Initiative, which during the pandemic has been supporting restaurant workers, struggling farms and other communities in need. Catherine and Juliana talk to Edward about how growing up in Carnarsie, Brooklyn—where there were very few Korean Americans—shaped his palate and his identity. He also shares stories about Clay, the hip Korean restaurant he opened in New York in the late ‘90s, his recent guest appearance on Top Chef: Portland, and his newfound mission in life to help others.
Resilience Runs in the Family | Perilla Diaries | Ep. 5
For our final episode of Perilla Diaries, we asked Thomas and Andrew where they got the resilience to carry on throughout all these pandemic challenges. Without hesitation, they pointed to the strongest people they know – their mothers. We asked the two restaurateurs to phone them for a short interview about their respective journeys starting new jobs and lives in America.
Korean Hot Sauce in Minneapolis
KC Kye is the founder of K-Mama Sauce, a Korean hot sauce company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. KC initially was preparing to go into ministry but pivoted into starting a business after a conversation with his mentor and pastor, Reverend Dr. Jin. Like many small businesses, KC and his team faced challenges and had to adapt to new rules and restrictions due to COVID-19. KC has found much love and support from his church and hopes that K-Mama Sauce will continue to grow to support the greater Minneapolis community.
Chicago Riots and Community Efforts | Perilla Diaries | Ep. 4
Late May, Downtown Chicago took an unexpected hit from the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd. When things started to get violent near Perilla, Thomas and Andrew were left trying to figure out what to do next. With concerns for the safety of their staff in mind, they subsequently paused delivery services and boarded up the restaurant’s windows for protection.
Korean Meals for Frontline Workers
When New York City began to reach its peak of coronavirus cases in April, Sung Book Dong, a Korean restaurant in Little Neck, began delivering discounted meals to the hardest-hit hospitals in NYC as a way of honoring and supporting the healthcare workers for their service.
Cooking Korean During Quarantine
밥 먹었어? Did you eat? We asked our followers on social media what Korean dishes they’ve been cooking up during the COVID-19 quarantine – this is what we got! Though we’re all stuck at home, that won’t stop us from cooking our favorite Korean dishes and fusions.
Facing Food Supply Shortages | Perilla Diaries | Ep. 3
With talk arising about the upcoming shortages in the food supply industries, Andrew and Thomas share how that would affect Perilla and their future. Still adapting to the challenges brought on by COVID-19, Andrew and Thomas give us an update about the changes they’ve made like becoming delivery drivers, creating an online shop, and adding pantry items to their menu.
Fighting Food Delivery Fees | Perilla Diaries | Ep. 2
It’s been about two weeks since our last video with Perilla. Since then, Thomas and Andrew have come up with a solution to streamline their services in order to support the business and the little staff they have left. But now they are faced with another obstacle – how can their business survive solely on delivery services?
Eunjo “Jo” Park is the executive chef at Kāwi, the fine-dining Korean restaurant opened by David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group in New York City. Jo is at the forefront of a growing group of chefs putting modern Korean food on the map. After culinary school at CIA she climbed the ranks in some of the best kitchens in the country, including Daniel, Per Se and Momofuku Ko. She tells Catherine and Juliana about her childhood in rural Korea, learning to cook for herself while her parents ran a dry cleaners, a devastating injury early on in her career, and the challenges lying ahead.
Effects of Covid-19 on Chicago Korean American Restaurant | Perilla Diaries | Ep. 1
Andrew Lim and Thomas Oh of Perilla | Korean American Fare in Chicago are just one of the few restaurant owners greatly impacted by the global shutdown. They lead us through how they’ve been battling throughout the current food industry crisis and lend their personal insight with us in this series. KoreanAmericanStory.org will continue following their story and update with regular content.
Jenny Kwak put Korean food on the map when she opened the restaurant Dok Suni in New York’s East Village in 1992 when she was just 19. Later, she opened a second successful restaurant, Do Hwa, where Quentin Tarantino was famously an investor. Catherine and Juliana catch up with the pioneering chef-restaurateur at her new Brooklyn restaurant, Haenyeo, where she’s flexing her creativity with dishes like cajun-inflected dduk boki. Jenny talks about her thwarted plans to be a painter; the rollicking early days of Dok Suni; her ambivalence about celebrity chef culture and her close relationship with her mom (who still keeps her kimchi recipe a secret, even from Jenny).
In this episode of #NotYourAverage, Julie Young chats with Jae Lee – a Korean American chef based in New York with 12 years of culinary experience under his belt. From working unpaid as a budding cook to becoming executive chef of NYC Rice & Gold, Lee is now promoting his new pop up restaurant Him 힘 which was inspired by his family’s immigrant journey from Korea.
Ta Bom: Los Angeles’ Women-Owned Korean Brazilian Food Truck
When Ilse Marques Kim, a former model from Brazil, was laid off from Korea Air’s cargo department at LAX, she struggled to find work for over a year.
Paired with succulent visuals of prime steak, watch Julie Young and Simon Kim, restaurateur and owner of Cote, talk about the trials and triumphs of making it in the fine dining industry. “Never in a million years had I thought that I would get a Michelin star.”
Moul Kim, owner of Keki Modern Cakes, which sells sensational jiggly cheesecake, talks about how traveling around Asia inspired him to open up his own dessert shop in Chinatown, NYC. Learn how his Korean grandparents helped him to come up with the name.
Chris Cho, chef and owner of Seorabol Korean Restaurant, went from dropping out of high school to being featured in various media platforms for showcasing authentic Korean cuisine. Chris’ father has also worked as a chef and has over 40 years of experience; Chris credits his father as the one who empowers him to keep going.
Esther Choi of Mokbar BK
Julie Young visits Esther Choi, Chef/Owner of Mokbar at Chelsea Market, to check out her new restaurant, Mokbar BK, in Brooklyn. Jaeki Cho joins Julie in a conversation with Esther and tasting of her food.
When you hear about an ice cream flavor that’s named “Sweet as Bae,” you might think that Hannah Bae, the ice cream maker and founder of Noona’s Ice Cream, is just as whimsical and fluffy. But this ice cream master is calm, grounded, and motivated by a deep sense of love and family.
Diane Kang, Masterchef Korea finalist and vlogger, speaks with Julie Young on how her vlog is “an ode to [her] mother.” Diane started the “A Korean Girl Eats” vlog with the simple intention of sharing Korean food with others, but it ended up becoming a catalyst for unexpected opportunities.
Chef Hooni Kim (of restaurants Hanjan and Danji in NYC) talks with Julie Young on winning a Michelin star, striving to please customers first, leaving medical school to become a chef with the support of his wife, and more.
Eddie Song of Korilla
Julie and Rekstizzy sit down with Eddie Song, founder of Korilla, New York’s first Korean BBQ truck. The proud owner shares on Korilla’s inception and his personal background & aspirations.
Esther Choi of Mokbar
Julie takes rapper Rekstizzy and her cousin August to Mokbar (먹바)—a hot spot for modern Korean cuisine located in New York’s Chelsea Market—where they meet chef and owner Esther Choi.
The Boss of Sauce: Top Chef Brian Huskey
“I love cooking because of the gratification of pleasing people. You know immediately if your food was great. You know even faster if it’s shit,” says Brian Huskey, 33, who emerged among the top five in Top Chef’s Season 11: New Orleans.
It’s About How You Feel in Your Heart: Profile of Marja Vongerichten
Never in a million years did Marja Vongerichten think she would become the unofficial ambassador of Korean food to the United States. Her story is well known at this point. Born to a Korean mother and an African-American serviceman father, at the age of three she was adopted by an African-American couple, Colonel James Allen and Margo McKay.
What Makes Myong Feiner Identify Herself As Korean?
What makes Myong Feiner identify herself as Korean?
I posed this question to Myong Feiner, owner and chef of Myong Gourmet, a Pan-Asian restaurant that recently opened in Mt. Kisco, New York. Myong Feiner, simply known as Myong, identifies first as Korean, and second as Jewish.