I find culinary inspiration in almost everything, from Music and art to conversations with my friends. I became a Krug Lover the day I discovered Krug Clos du Mesnil 1988.
How would you describe your culinary philosophy?
My culinary philosophy is all about honesty: to every guest enjoying what I cook, to my crew preparing and serving my dishes with me, and most of all, to the ingredients I use, and the dishes made from them. I aim for everything to be flawless and to touch people’s hearts through my dishes. For this, I must also be honest with myself.
How would you define your cooking style?
The cooking style of L’Espoir Du Hibou is basically about classic French cuisine: I want to introduce Korea to authentic French cuisine. I think you first need to experience and understand classic French cooking before you can enjoy the complexities of modern cuisine. When it comes to techniques, however, I try to break the boundaries between classic and modern.
Who is the person you admire most and why?
My role model is my grandfather. I was born into a family that has been running a restaurant business for at least three generations. My grandfather is known as the Korean-Japanese restaurateur who invented the culinary genre of Yakiniku in Osaka, Japan. This family background has led me to experience a wide range of ingredients from a young age. As a child, I wanted to be the owner of a restaurant like my grandfather. Today in my restaurant, I promote French culinary culture in Korea – just as my grandfather did Korean culinary culture in Japan long ago.
Can you describe any parallels you see between cooking and Music?
Having majored in music, I feel a kitchen is basically structured like an orchestra. This belief helped me quickly understand how it works as a system. Cooking is similar to music in many aspects: it involves a conductor and a group of performers, and it takes finesse, boldness and sometimes a strong sense of empathy. In the same vein, Krug Music experiences liken plots’ wines to musicians, and I was surprised to see how easily the House’s craftsmanship could be understood through that analogy.
What was the most memorable meal you either cooked or ate?
Upon graduating from a culinary school, I got my first job as a cook at DB Bistro Moderne in New York, run by Chef Daniel Boulud. It was after a long apprenticeship, however, that I was officially hired there. One day, the then-chef de cuisine, Olivier Muller, called me in and asked which dish from the kitchen I liked the most. My choice was stuffed pig trotter, which seemed to be the most challenging dish to make. Then Olivier put one on a plate told me: “Welcome to DB. Your official first day starts next week.” That dish is something I still vividly remember.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt in or outside the kitchen?
Becoming a father and raising a child. It has been the most difficult and unfamiliar job I have had in my entire life, but it is totally worth it. I see myself through the eyes of my daughter, and I dream about my future to make sure she has a wonderful one. I now think more deeply about who I am; I try harder than ever before to become who I want to be.
What makes you a Krug Lover?
I have always been in love with Champagne. During one trip, I got to taste Krug Clos du Mesnil 1988 – I took off the label and have kept it to this date. That was when I realized how profound an experience a Champagne could create. I have since been an avid fan of Krug Champagne and am myself a Krug Ambassade Chef.
What is your favourite Krug food pairing?
My favourite Krug food pairing is Krug x Mushroom, which was the Single Ingredients of 2017. The pairing emphasises the Champagne’s terroir, hidden behind its effervescence. My pairing of choice at the moment would be gently grilled pine mushrooms with a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée.