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Woojoong Kwon

Kwonsooksoo, South Korea
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CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MOMENT YOU REALIZED YOU WANTED TO BE A CHEF?

When I was six, I cooked instant noodles for myself for the first time. I really enjoyed my meal and the experience led me to become interested in cooking. My dream grew bigger when I learned that my grandfather was also Chef; my father, who was an artist, also inspired me by telling me how wonderful it is to be a Chef.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MOMENT YOU REALIZED YOU WANTED TO BE A CHEF?

When I was six, I cooked instant noodles for myself for the first time. I really enjoyed my meal and the experience led me to become interested in cooking. My dream grew bigger when I learned that my grandfather was also Chef; my father, who was an artist, also inspired me by telling me how wonderful it is to be a Chef.

A talk with Woojoong Kwon

The rendez-vous of two contrasting scents is just marvelous...
Did your cooking style change as you gained experience? If so, how?
In my early days as a Chef, I admired the beauty of Western gastronomy, although my specialty was Korean cuisine. I thus focused on combining Korean ingredients with Western-style sauces with the goal of producing Korean dishes with a twist. Over the course of my career, however, my culinary style switched to a more refined form of authentic Korean cuisine, as I have since sought to bring out the genuine flavours that Korean food has to offer.
Where and how do you find inspiration for cooking?
Travel brings me incredible new experiences. Instead of focusing only on cook books, I also develop my inspiration further by reading various novels and art books.
Have you always liked mushrooms? When was the first time you tried them?
My grandfather and parents loved going to the mountains, so from my childhood, I got used to dishes made with wild mushrooms they would pick. My favourite meal was freshly cooked rice topped with stir-fried Namatoloma sublateritium. Enjoying the mountainous flavours of this wild mushroom dish while feeling the cool breeze at my parents’ mountainside home still remains one of my best memories ever.
Do you think mushroom is a humble ingredient? Why or why not?
I think of mushroom as a premium ingredient. Wild mushrooms are amazing, but they are increasingly hard to source. As many of them can be collected only during a short period of time, you need to be diligent to find and enjoy them.
If you could pick only one mushroom for cooking and eating in the future, which would it be and why?
I would choose Sarcodon imbricatus. This densely aromatic and flavourful mushroom goes well with various ingredients and ensures the balance of the entire dish.
How do you draw out the special flavour of the mushroom?
I use a broth that blends well with the particular mushroom so I can maximize its flavour.
If you had to cook for yourself or your friends at home, what would you make?
Mushroom hot pot.
Could you share your experience or memories related to Krug Champagne?
One night, I met some of my fellow Chefs after work to prepare for an event. We enjoyed our late-night discussion over a bottle of Krug so much that we felt as if we were in a dream.
What is the name of the dish you matched with Krug Grande Cuvée?
Name: Dry-aged grilled duck breast with Sarcodon Imbricatus sauce
Mushrooms: Sarcodon imbricatus, Polyozellus multiplex
How did you come up with this dish?
One of my favourite dishes is duck soup with Sarcodon imbricatus. The soup itself is phenomenal but the flavours of meat can be somewhat lost, so I came up with this dish where you can fully enjoy the taste of duck meat thanks to the mushrooms.
Why does this dish match well with Krug Grande Cuvée?
I think the rich and intense aroma of this dish presents a beautiful balance with Krug Grande Cuvée, as it is a wonderfully flavourful Champagne.

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