Chef Leo Kang is one of three judges on "Master Chef Korea", the cooking reality show. "Of course, there are some participants whom the production team would love to have around for more episodes [for ratings]", he says, "but we can't stop them from being eliminated". Provided by CJ E&M
If there is one chef in Korea who can be called a celebrity, someone who consistently cooks up large helpings of publicity for the country's culinary scene, it is Leo Kang.
As one of three judges on "Master Chef Korea", the Olive TV's version of the British reality show, the straight-talking Kang quickly captivated viewers with his exemplary career, logical yet blunt criticism and good looks.
Kang is the executive chef at Macaroni Market, his restaurant in Itaewon, central Seoul, but he used to spend most of his time overseas. Kang, whose specialty is French cuisine, worked as a sous-chef at the three Michelin stars bearing Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London from 2003 to 2004 and at Pierre Gagnaire, which has one Michelin star, from 2002 to 2003. He was also a head chef at the Dubai branch of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
Both Ramsay and Gagnaire are internationally known chefs, with Ramsay most famous as head chef and host for the British and American versions of the reality cooking show "Hell's Kitchen".
With the first season of "Master Chef Korea" nearing its end, CJ E&M, which operates the cable food channel, organized a roundtable interview with Kang for local media. On the day of the interview last Wednesday at Kang's restaurant in Itaewon, CJ Foodville, an affiliate of CJ E&M, announced the company had designated Kang as head chef for restaurant Bibigo in London, which is scheduled to open later this year.
Bibigo is a franchise that specializes in Korean food, especially bibimbap, or rice mixed with vegetables.
For about an hour, Kang discussed a range of topics, from his most difficult assignment to his overnight fame.
Q. How has your life changed since "Master Chef Korea?" Does it affect sales at your restaurant?
A. I don't do social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook, so I didn't really know what was going on around me on the Web. I didn't really expect people would recognize me this much. The hardest thing after the show is I can't complain any more at restaurants. I just eat no matter how horrible the food is. At my restaurant, sales have increased a lot and I recently paid incentives to all my employees.
You often lose your temper with reality show participants.
I do vent my anger on them, but I still use honorific language as a way to tone down my anger. [Laughs] If they were my staffers, then I would drag them out of the kitchen. But I know I should be considerate to these people, because they are amateurs. Still, even if they are amateurs, I think there is a certain standard for them to meet [in the kitchen].
Each participant has his or her own story. There is one woman who is hearing-impaired and a man who is on the show as a tribute to his ailing wife, who has cancer. The main goal of the show is to choose the best amateur cook, but it is also a reality show and there has to be a certain level of entertainment. Was it hard to strike a balance between the two?
About 4,000 people applied for the show in the beginning and we chose 470 based on their self-introductions. I met all the 470 people in person. You know, every person has his or her own story. Of course, there are some participants whom the production team would love to have around for more episodes [for entertainment purposes, thus better ratings] but we can't stop them from being eliminated. Because all the participants watch and taste each other's foods, they all know who is the best and who is not.
Source : koreajoongangdaily.jo... ( English Korean )
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