By Joyce Appelman and Francine Cohen
NYWCA member, and South Korean native, Shin Kim has had enough with cooking for heads of state and, for the last few years, has been on a mission to share her passion for the culture and cuisine from her homeland.
She's certainly well trained, armed with an MBA (University of Chicago '04) and a culinary degree (ICE '09). Kim then refined her craft in some of New York's Michelin-starred restaurants, including Jean Georges, Gilt, and Adour, and Abigail Kirsch Catering before opening Banchan Story, the culinary center she launched here in 2014.
At Banchan Story she introduces New Yorkers to her food culture by immersing them in lively cooking classes and experiences that combine cultural stories, from history to modern pop, and tasty dishes of Korea. She also leads private workshops for corporate clients and educational institutions interested in Korean heritage, culture, and food.
Beyond the kitchen, Kim is also a published author; she has a slew of published articles on Korean food in newspapers in Korea and has become a leader in the industry bridging the gap of understanding between Korea and American cultures. Often asked to use her fluency in languages to lecture and translate the latest culinary trends of both countries, Kim has lectured on Korean cuisine to chefs and culinary students of University of Pretoria, South Africa, translated Korean Buddhist temple cuisine menus and recipes, provided media translation as a team member during President of Korea's visit to NYC for the UN General Assembly, and created cooking instruction videos for Korean dishes featured in popular Korean dramas.
We recently sat down with her to tell us about her life, the important work she does every day, and becoming a member of NYWCA.
What do you do for a living/what’s your title?
I am the founder/owner of Banchan Story, culinary studio and advisory service focused on Korean cuisine.
What do you love about your job?
I get to think, plan, learn, and talk about food all day, especially about Korean food! And that’s why I started my company focusing on Korean cuisine. Korean food has been gaining popularity in the last few years in the U.S., but it’s something I grew up with my whole life and I believe we’ve just scratched the surface of it. Most of the common home dishes I grew up with are yet to be introduced. There is a whole world of flavorful home dishes that are simple to make, with much focus on fermented sauces and vegetables, and most importantly, delicious and satisfying. This leads to another big part of what I love about my job – I get to introduce these ingredients and dishes in an interactive, hands-on cooking classes so that people have fun learning to cook these dishes and gain confidence to keep cooking Korean food at home.
What are your biggest challenges?
Marketing! I'm going through trial and error and learning a lot along the way. The big question of how do people find my business and my cooking classes?
Tell me how you got to this career?
I took Korean food for granted until I went to culinary school. Since then, I’ve seen how butter, heavy cream, and salt were used so liberally in daily life in restaurants and homes. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but I grew a new-found appreciation for Korean food, which achieves a whole spectrum of flavors and textures in a more balanced way. It is done with vegetables (land and sea), more fish and fish products, and a lot of slow foods (e.g. fermentation). I almost felt a sense of duty to introduce this variety of ingredients and flavors to more people, basically my friends and neighbors in New York, so that their diet is richer in a more balanced way. That’s how I got into teaching Korean cooking classes.
How long have you been involved with the Alliance?
This is my 3rd year.
What do you do in your spare time, hobbies?
Food is at the center of what I do and even when I try to take a break, I gravitate towards something related to food. I wonder if anyone can get away from food, even if they’re not in the industry? I go for a walk, I see a certain color combination which reminds me of certain ingredients or colors in a dish. I go to a museum; I find shapes that remind me of certain plates. I actually like that I find inspirations from different sources!