“It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it’s about desire. If you have a constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you’ll be a great cook.”
– Thomas Keller
Have you ever felt a drooling urge to eat Korean cuisine while watching a Kdrama? The urge that makes you wonder how salty are abalones or how the molten cheese covering Tteokbokki feels on top of the chewy spicy rice cake? How come a maggi-like ramen has a motley of toppings and flavors? Back in September, team KHIGH covered the competition of Indian chefs by KCCI, which keeps the Hallyu wave alive within the nation by bringing us the eclectic Korean Cuisine, it’s time to ponder upon the same hands that ‘hit a home run’ by carrying our tradition across the sea, in the homeland of Korea. Here is a detailed collection of few Indian chefs that carve a niche in cooking the Korean cuisine.
Chef Harsh Rawat
Harsh Rawat is the Chef de Partie at Agra Dining Indian Restaurant in Seoul, South Korea. Formerly, he was a chef at Hotel Vishal International in Gujarat. His abilities extend to leading all areas of the kitchen including buffets, production, restaurant, and main kitchen. The exquisiteness of his deft is the demographic reflection of the ethnically diverse Indian culture in his cooking. In our exclusive chat with the chef, we realized how grueling it is for a person of color to work with the language barrier. Recalling his initial days in South Korea Chef Rawat adds “initially there was a little trouble but those people understood my gestures, so I could communicate using that”; he further adds “As a foreigner help doesn’t necessarily come, so there is always a lot of work”.
Indians are slowly warming up to trying Korean cuisine which makes everyone relish the delectable taste, some of the favorites here are tteokbokki, ramyeon, bulgogi, which are often spotted in K-dramas as well. Adding his favorite dishes to the list, Chef Rawat says “my favorite food was fried chicken, kimchi salad and cabbage chicken, which has to be made in a large griddle.” Funnily though when I (Ekleen) tried Tteokbokki at home, the dough was so hard that I messed up the soft and chewy texture, I suppose practice makes everyone perfect eh? “Ha Ha Ha! this dish is indeed very famous here and is made of rice flour”, he replied. When asked about how Chef Harsh plans the menu, he said, “we keep our menus fixed according to Koreans’ food preference; Kimchi is made of radish and lettuce, but a major part of Korean food like rice cakes and others are usually sweet.” The arduous effort of Indian hands leveling the taste and spice of Korean culture is the major skill pivotal to his job.
Reminiscing over his past days, he delivered his final words for the like minds in pursuit of a similar path, “For the chefs in India that look forward to working in Korea in search for a better future just like I did; Do something that the world follows your footsteps, you might not realize but your thoughts are an inspiration for all. Go ahead, you can do it!”
Chef Shovan Das
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The founder of Asian Live Chef Shovan Das, who started off working for small Indian start-up restaurants, the former employee of Indian Continental Hotel now works for Samsung Welstory, a global food distribution service for a scale of 5000 venues in Korea. As a part of the planning team he impinges on the lost feeling of communicating in his native language with his former colleagues but after spending more than two decades in Korea, he has inspired the Indian cultural wave across Korea. He has worked as a food consultant and senior manager in the Welstory Culinary Academy. Chef Shovan Das also has a YouTube channel where he posts short, quick recipes regularly. The urge to sate his customer’s appetite and the ardor for continuous learning, takes his impeccable skill to pervasive prominence.
Chef Shovan Das’ Team Members
Mohammed Yunus Khan, Yogendra Singh Negi and Satish Kumar are his guest chefs from the intercontinental chains across India. Each member is known for bringing their own special skill to the team and their teamwork has paved its way after dealing with intricate challenges of Korean offset for Indian cuisine by controlling the spices in a way that Koreans can find it delectable. Yunus Khan is incharge of general kitchen and the other two practice exclusively on tandoor and curries in the scullery. The varied skill of each member is the connotation of Indian variety in food from various regions across the subcontinent.
Chef Rajeev Kumar
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The Head Chef at the Masala Indian restaurant in Seoul, Chef Rajeev Kumar, specializes in Indian Cuisine. He doesn’t believe in following the cliché but as an iconoclast likes inventing the dishes he caters to his audience. There are more than 46 experts working in the same field as his that endorse his menu development capabilities. His roots emerge from a small town in Uttarakhand, Gic Wajula, working as a head chef over the period of 5 years and living in Korea for nearly a decade his profound contribution towards his job, fosters from his commitment and aplomb. He regularly posts recipe videos on his YouTube channel as well.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Are you amazed by their experience to want a personalized tutorial of your favorite Korean Cuisine? Got any questions, let us know.
(Featured Image Courtesy: Chef Shovan Das Instagram)