Congratulations to Suyoung Park, the recipient of this year's Blancpain New York Young Chef Award! Chef Park started cooking as a sous chef at Two MICHELIN Star Jungsik in Seoul. In 2018 she moved to New York City, and within a year was executive chef at Two MICHELIN Star Jungsik in TribeCa. Her ascent and seamless transition between countries, languages, and kitchens is a testament to her immense talent. Read on to hear about Chef Park's love of allium's, cooking Korean food at home, and her favorite food shows.
Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
Jungsik is the restaurant that put the fire in me for the first time. It was my first fine dining experience in Korea, when I was 21. I was surprised by all the food and performance, and I really wondered whether I could work in this kitchen. After the first meal I enjoyed there, I visited two more times and eventually applied for a job there. I was lucky to start my career as a cook at Jungsik. Before I started working as a chef, my dream was to be a food stylist, but that first fine dining experience changed me.
What motivates you in the kitchen?
When I worked as a commis chef at Jungsik, I wanted to learn every station and everything, because the dishes from Jungsik were superb and exhibited great technique.That was my first motivation. My present motivation is to create a kitchen where our team grows together and to make sure our guests enjoy our food and service with happiness. When I work in a restaurant, all I want is to give the best service and food to our guests so that they can be satisfied. I look forward to fulfilling their expectations.
What’s an ingredient you love using?
I love using alliums (like garlic, scallion, and onion), herbs and citrus. I ate a lot of alliums when I was growing up, so culturally I'm familiar with them. Whenever I cook and develop new recipes, I become more aware of what ingredients I like, like herbs and citrus which add such flavor.
What's your favorite thing to cook at home?
I mostly make Korean comfort food—tteok-bokki, kimchi fried rice, kimbap, kimchi soup, etc. I also like to bake and love to make pastas and summer rolls too. Of course, when I cook, I plate nicely.
What’s your favorite food-related show or movie?
I like watching Somebody Feed Phil and Street Food. Somebody Feed Phil is a documentary-style show about traveling to cities around the world to experience food—from steet food to fine-dining restaurants. I can't travel myself now, so it lets me have that experience, plus it's not heavy; it's comfortable and funny to watch. Street Food is about the world’s street food—food people can easily access and enjoy—and shows chefs' philosophies and stories set against this backdrop.
Hero image: Chef Suyong Park. Photo by Monica Schipper
Presented in partnership with Blancpain