Features 4 minutes 23 August 2023

The Soulful Gastronomy of Chef Duo Kim Hee-eun and Yoon Dae-hyun

Discover the culinary journey of Chef Kim Hee-eun and Yoon Dae-hyun of one MICHELIN-starred restaurant, Soul. From traditional inspirations to innovative creations, their dishes resonate with passion and artistry, inviting diners to savour a symphony of flavours that transcend the ordinary.

Nestled in the vibrant Haebangchon district, Soul has etched its name into the MICHELIN Guide through a symphony of contemporary flavours that ignite the senses. Within the heart of this culinary haven, Chef Kim Hee-eun and Yoon Dae-hyun share more than just a partnership in life; they share a culinary bond that crafts extraordinary gastronomic adventures.

The two chefs artfully delve into the diverse food cultures and ingredients found in Korea, infusing each dish with familiar, comforting flavors reminiscent of everyday life. Chefs Kim and Yoon have aptly named their restaurant "Soul", and continually pour their passion into their craft, a sentiment that resonates through every exquisite bite they present to their patrons.

Collaborating with Genesis, the two chefs are set to unveil a series of special dishes, inviting food enthusiasts to savor the unique essence of their culinary talents.

Furthermore, Chef Kim aims to create culinary experiences that broaden the horizons of those unfamiliar with certain ingredients. Abalone, for example, is highly valued by locals in Korea, but foreigners who haven't encountered it before might find it peculiar or unappetizing. But chef Kim aims to encourage people to overcome their initial reservations and enjoy the flavors.

Since being awarded one MICHELIN star, Soul has become a magnet for international diners. To Chef Kim expresses, it is an opportunity to showcase her modern take on traditional Korean cuisine, crafted with local ingredients.

Chef Yoon shares that nothing brings him greater happiness than delighting people through food. To him, the challenges of his daily routine melt away each time he sees guests relish and enjoy his culinary creations.

GENESIS X Michelin Guide Seoul : Gastronomic Journey

Mrs. Kim Jeonbok: Wando Abalone with Seaweed Mascarpone

In her dish named 'Mrs. Kim Jeonbok,' Chef Kim Hee-eun combines fresh Wando abalone and gopchang seaweed mascarpone, conjuring a culinary tale. These oceanic ingredients, cherished since her childhood, evoke the sea's timeless essence through their harmonious interaction.

To craft this dish, Chef Kim first delicately cleans the abalone before encasing it with radish and kelp, steaming it gently, and adding a hint of smokiness for a rich and intricate flavor profile. The gopchang seaweed and mascarpone are artfully blended to create a luscious sauce, which is served alongside the abalone, mimicking the graceful motion of waves crashing against a rock. A touch of lemon vinaigrette is added to the white wood ear mushrooms, lending a refreshing acidity and crunchy texture to the dish.

The interaction of the velvety mascarpone sauce, the freshness of the white wood ear mushrooms, and the tender abalone results in a breathtaking representation of the sea's captivating beauty.

Soul's Gamjajeon: Potato Pancake

A cherished favorite, enjoyed throughout the seasons, is Soul's renowned gamjajeon, or potato pancake. This dish begins with the careful selection of the finest and most flavorful potatoes. "We're currently using vibrant red potatoes," Chef Yoon shares with evident enthusiasm.

The culinary process starts by roasting these crimson potatoes, blending their essence with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The result is an explosion of flavors, a savory ode to the palate. These luscious potato pancakes rest on a gentle drizzle of pork-infused oil, adding a touch of ethereal richness. Alongside, a perilla oil aioli performs a seamless dance of flavors.

"To achieve a satisfying crunch," Chef Yoon explains, "we introduce an array of small vegetables. Drawing inspiration from Gwangjang Market's bindaetteok, we combine pickled onions, radishes, and apples, crafting a melody of tastes." The symphony culminates with crispy polenta potato chips, harmonizing textures and flavors in perfect cadence. The result is a masterpiece, a mosaic of rich flavors that encapsulate the essence of their culinary journey.

Thanks to Mat-ganjang Duck

The dish, "Thanks to Mat-ganjang Duck”, takes duck to a new level of culinary craftsmanship. The duck is aged for a week to enhance its taste, resulting in succulent flavors. The duck's breast is expertly made crispy and topped with kumquat marmalade for a touch of creativity. Stir-fried buckwheat and chia seeds add a playful texture. The duck's legs are gently infused with soy sauce and slow-cooked with care. A rich jus, crafted from duck bones and enriched with mulberry syrup, brings a touch of Korean essence. This dish encapsulates the many aspects of duck in a symphony of flavors.

“To complement this tantalizing creation,” Chef Kim says. “We serve it with sweet carrot puree sourced from Jeju Island and garnish it with dill flowers atop cherries pickled in kirsch syrup.”

Soul's distinctive mat-ganjang sauce is a blend of shiitake mushrooms, burdock, apples, and lemons. "This exceptional sauce," Chef Kim clarifies, "is the core of our culinary philosophy, enhancing dishes like soy sauce duck and beef in seaweed soup with deep, soulful flavors." Rooted in tradition, this sauce reflects their commitment to excellence and heritage, adding character to the dishes that delight exploratory palates.

In perfect harmony, the two chefs emphasize that persistence is the key mindset in the world of cooking. To them, achieving truly delectable flavors demands unwavering dedication, sometimes requiring over 20 hours of focused effort to perfect a single sauce. They firmly believe that consistent planning and tackling challenging tasks with determination lead to growth and accomplishment.

Chef Kim acknowledges that living life with no regrets may not always be easy, but it is the path to shaping a fulfilling and purposeful existence. For her, avoiding wasting time and instead investing it in meaningful pursuits is crucial. They both agree that persistently believing in their chosen path and putting in the hard work are the driving forces behind the soulful dishes they create today and will continue to shape the soul of their culinary journey in the future.

Chef Kim finds great inspiration from ceramics. Her childhood experiences of doing art and pottery continue to fuel her creativity and passion for cooking. Even now, as she prepares dishes, beautiful ceramics give her a surge of energy and fresh ideas. She explains that triggers thoughts of specific ingredients and recipes, almost as if she were crafting a beautiful drawing. This unique connection between her artistic endeavors and culinary artistry infuses her creations with a touch of magic, making dishes that delights both the eyes and the taste buds.

Chef Yoon cherishes the precious path he walks alongside his wife, sharing the same dream and working together in harmony. Ideas for their culinary creations often sprout from their daily lives, and they eagerly explore cookbooks and watch videos together, blurring the lines between work and personal time. Their shared thoughts and interests in food are so intertwined that even after work at the restaurant, they find joy in engaging in discussions about culinary delights. For Chef Yoon, this life they've built together is not one filled with boredom or disdain, but rather a journey that remains continuously fascinating and enjoyable.

He expresses that by dreaming the same dream and walking the same road, they have become a unified force. Their shared passion and dedication have molded them into a seamless team, bound by love and a common vision, propelling them toward success and fulfillment in their culinary pursuits.

Chef Kim Hee-eun and Yoon Dae-hyun are committed to continuing their culinary journey, touching people's lives through dishes infused with warmth, heart, and soul. In an era where sustainability is a prominent topic, they place a strong emphasis on progress and growth, ensuring that their team members are taken care of and supported. They firmly believe that sustainability within their team lays the foundation for achieving all their aspirations.

Their ultimate dream is to become influential leaders within the industry, guiding and inspiring their junior colleagues to excel in their own unique ways. Witnessing the growth and development of their team members brings them immense joy and satisfaction. Through the essence of their soulful creations, they aim to convey their genuine care and emotions to their guests, fostering a profound connection with every dish they serve. Together with their team, they seek to expand their culinary horizons, learn from one another, and advance confidently into the future.


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