Features 01 April 2022

Find your own destination : Chef Jang Myoung-sik of L’Amitié

Chef-owner Jang Myoung-sik, winner of the 2022 MICHELIN Mentor Chef Award, says true growth begins on a journey of finding oneself.

It has been 16 years since chef Jang Myoung-sik and L’Amitié joined paths. L’Amitié welcomed its first guests in 1999 and built a reputation for excellent cuisine, which continued after Chef Jang Myoung-sik took the helm of the restaurant in 2006. It has remained MICHELIN 1-Star since 2017 when the Guide first launched in Seoul.

Read More: What Our Inspectors say about L’Amitié

Chef Jang Myoung-sik's calling has led him on this journey, despite numerous trials and errors.

"I’ve been a chef for 20 years. What I realized while experiencing the dining culture from this long perspective is that principles that do not follow the trend become classics. I had to go down many paths before I learned this.”

Chef Jang explains that he had to try countless times before finding himself. The missing parts were then filled with concrete experiences forged through passion, time and effort. What he learned in the process is the importance of personality.

"Creativity is possible only after you have the basics. The theoretical knowledge and skills of cooking are important, but I value ‘personality’ as the basic quality of a chef. In the past, there were many places where chefs used harsh words and forced their juniors to lead the kitchen. I don't think it's possible to cook good food in the end unless you have a good personality and treat others well. The feeling and attitude of the maker are always contained in a dish."

He asserts that once you have knowledge and skills in cooking, you can craft your own unique dishes with your own color. "Cooking, after all, is the product of the chef's hands. It is necessary to have hands-on experiences in the kitchen and incorporate your academic knowledge into reality. If you have solid basic skills, it's not difficult to create your own color. Creativity also moves forward to the extent of your experience. The chef's personality is revealed by being centered and variating,” he says.

“Of course, there may be some delicious and interesting dishes made with shallow skills. My opinion is not the only approach, but I'm more focused on cooking. I always tell junior chefs to learn and study the basics of French cuisine. It might be my greed to hope that the younger generation will have an attitude to learn these basic things with affection."

“First L’Amitie gave him passion and worries, Second L’Amitie made him dream bigger, And the current L’Amitie is a compass for his future direction.”

Chef Jang Myoung-sik's first challenge started with the acquisition of L’Amitié. He had to break out of a stable career, and go into heavy debt to start his entrepreneurial journey.. Jang recalled that he felt a lot of pressure and worries at that time, but he always dreamed of having his own restaurant, so he took the bold step. A few years after that, his dreams changed, expanded, and led him on a new path. His second challenge was the dream of achieving a MICHELIN Star after hearing that Guide was coming to Seoul.

"At that time in my children's room, I suddenly noticed a book called , which was stuck on a shelf. I opened the book and read it at once; like destiny, it gave me an opportunity to embody my dream. Before that, I had a vague idea of running my own restaurant, but since then I made more specific plans in various areas. It’s written in the book that one will eventually achieve one’s dream after he has it, so I thought I should dream first."

Chef Jang Myoung-sik is now taking on his third challenge. With a bigger passion, he fully realized what he wanted to show, from food, space, and even dishes and objects. His never-ending journey is to evolve the next version of L’Amitié from where it is now.

Chef Jang Myoung-sik shares the special value of "finding your own direction" with Genesis, and introduces the exclusive tasting menu that blesses the liveliness of the spring season given by nature.

“The food on this journey with Genesis and Michelin stems from the desire to truly get to know oneself and move forward,” he explains.

Signature Tasting Menu
presented by L’Amitié for MICHELIN X GENESIS

Spring’s asparagus
Spring’s asparagus
Lobster with crab bisque soup & kohlrabi
Lobster with crab bisque soup & kohlrabi
Sablefish with orange beurre blanc & fried cauliflower
Sablefish with orange beurre blanc & fried cauliflower

"It's a good start to the year when people can feel the vitality of nature. I used asparagus and sablefish, which are ingredients that symbolize spring, to express a sense of this season. Also, I wanted to show my guests our consistent principles and directions with our signature bisque sauce. Usually, the bisque sauce is made from lobster shells, but we use sweet blue crabs to make L’Amitié's own flavor."

Chef Jang never stands still, as he seeks new knowledge and dreams of the next steps. When he needs inspiration for a new dish, he re-opens the cookbooks from his early days, or visits a restaurant to broaden his experience as a diner – not as a chef. Local markets are also a source of seasonal ingredients that bring new ideas and flavors. For him, learning is not limited to one place.

"In fact, true growth seems to come from a constant effort not to regress. If you stay still, you'll fall behind. I think it's also a form of growth to be able to maintain your position and show consistent performance. What I dream of now is to show my guests a dish without extravagance, but with sincerity. Free from the pressure of recognition, free from making money and fame – so that the food will be really comfortable and full of heart. I hope the diner can relax in every aspect. That's the journey I'm still looking for," he confides.


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