First Day I Got My Michelin Stars: Sun Kim of Meta

The South Korean chef shares what it was like the day his restaurant got one Michelin star.
Regulars who dine along the trendy Keong Saik Road will be familiar with the understated yet elegant Meta, and its chef-owner Sun Kim. The South Korean native is soft-spoken by nature, but the open-concept kitchen over at one-Michelin-starred Meta might be enough for one to nudge him into speaking up that bit more.

Don't walk into Meta expecting a bibimbap though. The food here is contemporary Asian, a fusion of French and Asian flavours thanks to Kim's training in Seoul, and subsequently at Tetsuya's in Sydney and two-Michelin-starred Waku Ghin by chef Tetsuya Wakuda. We speak to chef Sun Kim on his restaurant's newly-minted status this year, following the Michelin Guide Singapore awards.
My first encounter with the Michelin Guide was... To be honest, I don't remember the exact moment when I learnt about the guide. But for as long as I've remembered, it has been my dream and goal as a chef.

The first time our team earned a star... was in 2017, here in Singapore. I couldn't believe that my team managed to achieve my dream with me. For my entire career thus far, I've yet to work in a country which has the MICHELIN guide. To be able to achieve it in Singapore, it is truly unbelievable.
The mirrored wall in Meta helps increase the sense of space in the restaurant.
The mirrored wall in Meta helps increase the sense of space in the restaurant.
How did you celebrate when your restaurant received one Michelin star?
As soon as the news got out, our reservations were fully booked the next day. So, my team and I could only have a simple and quick supper to prepare for the next day. Actually, I couldn't sleep and wound up coming to work early the next day to check on our preparation quality. Proper celebrations will take place in late August, where the entire team will be going to Bali for 3 days and 2 nights. This is what I've promised them if we were to receive a star. And I'm glad that their hard work paid off.

How has the MICHELIN guide influenced your life and career?
Although the guide has been my dream and goal, I did not plan or create anything for the sake of achieving the star. It was more of a benchmark of quality to give myself a goal to push towards. It definitely feels rewarding to receive it for doing what I love.

SEE ALSO: Chef Sun Kim shares his favourite Bib Gourmand eatery from this year's list

How will having a star change the direction of your restaurant?
I don't see how it'll change our direction. Instead, it would cement it and motivate my team and I to push and evolve further in producing better flavours and quality. It is important to the team and I that we don't disappoint our diners' expectations and prove that we are worthy of the star.
Chef Sun Kim's take on Korean Pancake over at Meta
Chef Sun Kim's take on Korean Pancake over at Meta
To you, what does a Michelin star symbolise?
It symbolises the effort that my team has put in and the people that has supported Meta from the beginning. All the hard work and belief in Meta is what helped us to achieve what we have today. This star is for my entire team, not just me. The kitchen team, service staff and the dishwasher are the people who made it possible. It is never a one-man show.

My advice for young chefs aiming for Michelin stars is...
Believe in yourself, go all out to follow your dream, and love what you do. That's what I did and it worked out well for me. I think success finds you when you have the right attitude.
Recommended Reading: View more stories in the First Day I Got My Michelin Stars series here.
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