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Seoul Gourmet 2018 brings nature and table together

Nov 12,2018
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Diners at InternContinental Grand Seoul Parnas in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, enjoy a dinner by Macarena de Castro of restaurant Jardin in Mallorca, Spain, on Friday, during Seoul Gourmet 2018. [OH HEE-JEONG]
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Rose Hye-jung Han
Going beyond just what’s on the dining table, Seoul Gourmet 2018 adopted a theme of ingredients and the people who bring them to the table.

Besides the chefs who took the lead in preparing the final products delivered to food aficionados during the five-day food festival that ended Sunday, farmers, fishermen and ecosystem researchers also gathered together to think more about how to make better ingredients and what else to do to find sustainable food resources for the future.

Instead of simply inviting big name chefs from around the globe, this year the festival found a way to include more from local producers.

The gala dinner held yesterday - one of Seoul Gourmet’s largest food events - was more about getting insights from global chefs on how to best use locally-sourced ingredients.

Lee Hanboreum, a pig farm owner who strives to keep a diverse range of pig species on the Korean peninsula, Kim Seong-ki, who raises grass-fed cows, and other farmers specializing in raising chicken, producing plums, tomatoes and potatoes, or fishing anchovies in the Yellow Sea, participated to provide ingredients to top chefs like Dan Hunter of Australian restaurant Brae, Macarena de Castro of restaurant Jardin in Mallorca, Spain and Poul Andrias Ziska of Faroe Island restaurant KOKS.

How these chefs used local ingredients could inspire new ideas on how to grow them. That was the reason behind putting together the 350,000 won ($309) dinner, as participating chefs are some of the best talents known for using a variety of fresh farm items. Dan Hunter especially has a strong fan base because of his preference for presenting ingredients so they show their true colors on the plate.

To help these farmers learn more about farming techniques, the event organizer also invited farmers from other countries, including Eduardo Sousa Holm of Spain, specialized in raising geese, as well as Umberto Rondolino, who produces rice.

A more academic approach onto how to make more sustainable ingredients for the future was discussed at the forum on Friday. Under the theme of “Feeding the Planet,” the event organizer had the chefs from Australia, the Faroe Islands and Spain sit down and talk about their ideas. The event had another session on what kind of cooperation is needed for humans to keep nature more sustainable. Eduardo Sousa Holm then spoke at the third session about how to add value to all efforts of developing food items, and how to make food without harming nature.

The food festival has continued to bring the international talents to Korea, including Jordi Roca of El Cellar de Can Roca in Spain as well as Italian Massimo Botura of Osteria Francescana, since its establishment in 2010. These chefs traveled around Korea to experience Korean food and ingredients, in order to inspire them to include more of the Korean touch on their plates. Rose Hye-jung Han, the founder and president of the Seoul Gourmet, made a film of these chefs gaining food experiences in Korea. She wanted to invite chefs to Korea through events she hosted after she learned that there is rarely a chance for such talents to experience a variety of Korean food.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]