Features 3 minutes 12 April 2024

Nature and sustainability serve as the foundation of Gastronomy at Bicena

Both Evian® and the one MICHELIN star restaurant Bicena uphold a deep respect for nature within their respective domains, demonstrating unwavering dedication to quality.

Stepping into Bicena's ambiance, one immediately senses its sophistication and inviting atmosphere. Under the leadership of Chef Kwangsik Jun, Bicena's contemporary Korean cuisine showcases the finest seasonal ingredients, expertly crafted with a blend of traditional authenticity and modern techniques. Chef Jun describes Korean cuisine as a sustainable recipe for refined elegance, devoid of excess glamour but rich in natural beauty. Drawing inspiration from the bounties of nature, Bicena's culinary creations, steeped in the essence of Korean tradition, delight diners each evening.

In the partnership between the MICHELIN Guide to Seoul | Busan 2024 and Evian®, both entities share a common ethos. Evian®, sourced from the pristine mineral springs of the French Alps, embodies nature's purity on a grand scale. Mirroring Bicena's culinary philosophy, Evian®'s commitment to sustainability is evident in its meticulous production process, aimed at preserving and safeguarding the planet's clean water sources. Throughout their conversation, Bicena's Chef Kwangsik Jun and Antoine Portmann of General Manager - Evian® and Danone Waters Europe found common ground in their shared reverence for nature and unwavering pursuit of excellence.

(From left to right) CEO of LOTTE Chilsung Beverage Yungie Park, General Manager - Evian® and Danone Waters Europe Antoine Portmann, Chef Kwangsik Jun of Bicena
(From left to right) CEO of LOTTE Chilsung Beverage Yungie Park, General Manager - Evian® and Danone Waters Europe Antoine Portmann, Chef Kwangsik Jun of Bicena

From nature to the table

Chef Kwangsik Jun underscores the significance of nature and the changing seasons in his culinary approach. He elaborates that Bicena endeavors to encapsulate the evolving flavors of Korean cuisine by sourcing top-quality ingredients.

"The crux lies in sourcing excellent ingredients. For instance, our printed menu often don't specify particular fish. This is because the fish available to customers can vary daily based on market conditions. Personally, fishing is a hobby of mine, and I've established connections with numerous fishermen on Jeju Island. They frequently provide me with naturally caught fish from the sea, such as Spotted knifejaw (Local Parrotfish) and long-tailed red snapper, which I incorporate into our menu. At Bicena, we strive to harness the gifts bestowed by nature and infuse them with the essence of Korean cuisine."

Evian®, naturally sourced at the heart of the French alps at Évian-les-Bains, France
Evian®, naturally sourced at the heart of the French alps at Évian-les-Bains, France

In alignment with this ethos, Antoine Portmann, General Manager - Evian® and Danone Waters Europe, concurs on the paramount importance of nature. He explains that Evian®'s water epitomizes a fusion of technological advancements aimed at maintaining impeccable quality standards, from sourcing to bottling.

"Much like how Bicena employs diverse cooking techniques to showcase nature's bounty on the plate, Evian® brings nature to people through a spectrum of technological innovations. Evian®'s water originates from natural mineral springs formed by millennia of rain and snow accumulation in the heart of the French Alps. Over an average period of 15 years, the water traverses through layers of rock, acquiring Evian®'s distinct and harmonious mineral composition. Ultimately, the unique product born of nature serves as both the genesis and pinnacle of the value we deliver.

To safeguard this pristine natural resource for future generations, our brand has dedicated over three decades to preserving the water source's natural environment. What consumers encounter is nature's own creation. Accordingly, our company diligently safeguards the water source and upholds the excellence of natural mineral water through over 300 rigorous quality tests daily. Our mission is to make the splendor of nature readily accessible to people through technology, mirroring the chef's process of crafting delectable dishes from premium ingredients."

Balance creativity, innovation and consistent quality

Sometimes, there appears to be a tension between pursuing creativity and innovation while upholding the highest standards of quality. This is because exploring new and exciting avenues often entails venturing into uncharted territory, where maintaining consistent quality can be challenging. However, both Bicena and Evian® are aligned in their belief that these challenges are surmountable.

"At Evian®, we firmly believe that creativity, innovation, and quality can coalesce seamlessly. We strive to introduce more innovative products while steadfastly preserving the fundamental characteristics that epitomize Evian®'s natural mineral water, which we hold in the highest regard. With a pH level of 7.2, imparting a sense of natural purity, our mineral water boasts a balanced, velvety taste that complements gastronomic experiences perfectly. Recognizing that many individuals prefer sparkling water with their meals, our new offering, Evian® Sparkling, delivers an exquisite taste characterized by its lightness and pleasantness, achieved through delicate air bubbles. Through these enhancements in quality and advancements in technology, we are successfully reconciling creativity with quality," elucidates Antoine Portmann, General Manager - Evian® and Danone Waters Europe.

Echoing this sentiment, Chef Jun emphasizes that staying true to the essence is the essence of true creativity. "Consistently presenting new dishes poses a considerable challenge, but stagnation is not an option. In my view, creativity and innovation do not necessarily entail introducing something entirely novel. Instead, as time progresses, innovation naturally unfolds through the accumulation of experiences, the amalgamation of diverse perspectives, and the meticulous refinement of flavors. We believe that the most significant innovation and creativity lie in adhering to fundamental values while embracing gradual, incremental changes. Sometimes, rather than radical transformations, enhancing seemingly perfected situations demands deeper contemplation."

The Special Value of Sustainability

Chef Jun and Antoine Portmann concur that sustainability stands as the paramount value in ensuring the enduring enjoyment of gourmet cuisine and pristine water. Jun articulates that the essence of fine dining ultimately lies in fostering sustainability across various relationships.


"Everyone seeks universally commendable values, but what's the use if there's no reciprocation in the end? Sustainable relationships are truly crucial. Quality ingredients cannot be procured without the dedication of producers or farmers, and crafting dishes becomes challenging without the support of employees to share them. Furthermore, restaurants cannot thrive without customers to savor and partake in their offerings. Establishing a distribution network for wholesome ingredients necessitates collaborative efforts. We require this virtuous cycle where producers cultivate premium crops, restaurants actively utilize them, and waste is minimized. This ethos extends to our patrons as well. The key is to be the kind of establishment that customers wish to revisit. Hence, we strive to ensure customer satisfaction by meticulously crafting our own service protocols and continually refining our approach."

Antoine Portmann echoes the significance of sustainability. "Evian® is steadfast in its endeavor to become as sustainable as possible. We prioritize sourcing more recycled PETs (rPETs) for our bottled water production, and currently, all of Evian®'s water bottles are made from 100% recyclable materials, with a substantial portion consisting of recycled plastic. Presently, we are part of a generation equipped with the knowledge and technology to mitigate the escalation of global temperatures, but knowledge alone isn't sufficient. We must act swiftly. Embracing 100% recycled PET technology with a sense of mission and minimizing waste represents the pathway towards safeguarding the planet we hold dear."

Chef Kwangsik Jun of Bicena and Antoine Portmann the General Manager - Evian® and Danone Waters Europe
Chef Kwangsik Jun of Bicena and Antoine Portmann the General Manager - Evian® and Danone Waters Europe

In their discussion, the two experts discerned that Evian® and Bicena share a commitment to safeguarding the Earth's natural environment and promoting sustainability, all while delivering exceptional quality and maintaining high standards for gourmet consumers. Both Bicena and Evian®, endorsed by Michelin's guide, embody a shared ethos of sustainability, believing that the finest gourmet cuisine stems from harnessing the gifts of nature.


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