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- Executive Chief Paul Schenk was curious about hansik even when he lived back home in Australia. When he turned 21, he found cooking instructions for making kimchi, and tried making it himself. It might have been more out of his determination and curiosity to try the new and creative that was necessary in order to become a good chef, rather than out of a particular love for Korea. Chinese and Japanese cuisines are widely known throughout the world, but Korean cuisine still represents uncharted waters for many people. That is why he thinks that there is a world full of new possibilities to create new dishes based on traditional Korean dishes.
“My first experience with hansik was when I was 20 years old. I had bulgogi at the hotel I was working for; in fact, I made it myself following the instructions in the cookbook my boss got from Korea. I didn’t think it was particularly delicious at the time. Sweet beef… it was strange, I have to admit, but it was just as unique for sure.”
- Since then, he has tasted and studied more Korean dishes and become more attracted to the world of Korean cuisine. As interesting as it was to learn about the great diversity and long history of hansik, it was especially exciting for him to find out that you could find amazing Korean dishes in every corner of Korea, even far away from the busy streets of Seoul. For example, he has a wonderful memory of finding a great galbi(beef rib barbeque) restaurant in an alley, away from the main street traffic. He also says that he had the world’s best samgyetang (whole chicken soup cooked with sweet rice and ginseng) at a small restaurant in a village in the central region of Korea. Executive Chief Paul Schenk has always made a lot of effort to add more depth to his study of hansik.
“I have always been passionate about hansik. I bought a big map of Korea and marked the places I have been to and the things I have eaten. I also keep a record of famous seasonal dishes and their hometowns. I write down details about all the Korean dishes I taste and keep them available for future reference.” When he said that his specialty was “modern hansik,” I thought his main interest lay in the application of different elements of Korean cooking in an unconventional fashion. But I was surprised to hear his opinion on the global development of hansik. “Hansik needs to maintain its unique characteristics in terms of its flavors and ingredients. Should they change, it can no longer be called hansik. However, the portion served can be changed in terms of weight and volume and garnish to better represent the person preparing the dish.” Executive Chief Paul Schenk recommended 3 dishes to foreigners who are new to the Korean cuisine experience. They were naengmyeon (cold noodles), galbijjim(steam-cooked beef ribs), and samgyetang. He was sure that almost all foreigners would find them delicious without being overwhelmed. As he said that he would not overlook any of the three major elements of Korean cuisine - color, flavor, and aroma ? his eyes sparkled with his passionate determination to build a new world of flavors through hansik
- Curriculum vitae [ Paul Schenk ]
- Executive Chef, Intercontinental Hotel
- An Australian native, he came to Korea 12 years ago at the age of 26 and has since accumulated experience and skills. Now, he offers Korean/Western fusion food at the Intercontinental Hotel, Seoul.