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Korean chef to bring local style to competition

Sept 06,2019
Chef Jeong Jin-hwan of Mosu, right, is the only Korean contender in the S. Pellegrino Young Chef’s regional semifinals scheduled for Sept. 10, and he will introduce his take on quail in the Korean serving style known as bansang, above. [JEONG JIN-HWAN]
Chefs from all around the world will soon gather to compete for the title of S. Pellegrino Young Chef and hopefully put their name on the map of the culinary world. One of those chefs will be Jeong Jin-hwan of Michelin-starred Mosu in Seoul.

Jeong will be competing in a regional competition in Japan next week for a spot in the grand finale in Milan, scheduled for May 8, 2020. He is the only contender from Korea this year. Contenders for the regional semifinals on Sept. 10 were chosen based on written applications from young chefs under 30 years old submitted earlier this year, and the final 12 will be named at the end of this year, when all of the regional semifinals are done. The competition is considered attractive for many because each finalist will be assigned a well-established mentor to help them create a more refined version of their competition dish.

“Regardless of winning the competition, I have heard feedback and reviews that participating in the competition itself becomes a great source of inspiration and education because you get to spend time with chefs from all over the world and mentors,” said Jeong. “I wanted to see [if] the direction I have set for myself would be [welcomed] in the culinary scene.”

The Korean chef is preparing quail in many different forms. He decided to serve bansang, a style seen in Korean cuisine, in which one gets served different small dishes at once. Usually it comes with rice, soup and other banchan, or small dishes, ranging from vegetables to meat. He puts barley, instead of rice, into a soup he makes from roasted quail parts. The body of the quail is grilled, and the legs are made into tteokgalbi, a patty made with minced meat.

“I wanted to show some of Korea’s dining culture, how things can be harmonious when eaten together at the same time,” said Jeong, explaining why he decided to serve multiple dishes to one person.

After he studied culinary arts in Korea, Jeong left for Singapore and Australia to explore the dining scenes elsewhere. After working overseas, he wanted to come back to Korea to learn how he could incorporate what he picked up during his three years overseas into what’s available in Korea.

“Instead of delving more into the cuisines of other cultures, I wanted to see what I can do in Korea because I got to realize what the strength of Korean food [is] after I spent some time working overseas,” said Jeong.

“My final goal is to build something in Korea, and I thought now is the time to check on my progress before deciding what path I take in the future.”

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