Tag Archives: san francisco

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Benu Chef Corey Lee Announces Tour Dates for New Cookbook

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Acclaimed chef Corey Lee will be hitting the road later this month to promote his new cookbook Benu, which was named after his three Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco.

The cookbook isn’t just your run-of-the-mill collection of recipes: The picture-heavy, 256-page hardcover work is presented as a 33-course tasting menu that includes Lee’s anecdotes and essays that showcase the inspirations for Benu’s cuisine.

Publisher Phaidon announced the dates for Lee’s book tour on Monday, just a few weeks after Lee was nominated for another James Beard Award for 2015. The events will feature book signings, conversations with other famous chefs and dishes highlighted in the Benu cookbook.

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Angelenos can look forward to seeing Lee next Wednesday with one of the most prolific Korean American chefs out there—Roy Choi will sit down with Lee for a chat after the reception, followed by a book signing in Santa Monica. On April 29, Lee will hit New York City and reunite with his mentor from The French Laundry, Thomas Keller.

Lee will then head to Asia in May, stopping by Hong Kong and Seoul before hitting the final leg of his tour in Toronto. The last event on May 27 will feature a conversation with another well-known Korean American chef—Momofuku’s chef and founder, David Chang.

For more information on Lee’s tour, you can take a look at the full schedule on Phaidon’s website. Tickets are available for his events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong. Tickets for Seoul and Toronto are TBA. You can also find more information on purchasing Lee’s cookbook, Benu, at the above link, as well as Amazon.

Benu was awarded three Michelin Stars by the 2015 Michelin Guide back in October 2014, and the recent James Beard Award nomination isn’t his first: He won the Rising Star Chef of the Year award while he was at The French Laundry in 2006.

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Images via Phaidon Press

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Link Attack: Roy Choi in Watts; Dogs Rescued From Meat Farm; Custom Emoji Keyboard

Video: Roy Choi Wants the Next Food Revolution to Start in Watts

The first location will be in Watts at a site that used to be smoke shop and a barbershop. Choi says that his team wanted to open a location somewhere in South Los Angeles, and they ended up focusing on Watts because of the sense of community they found there. (LAist)

Dogs Rescued from South Korean Meat Farm Brought to San Francisco

Thirteen frightened young dogs and puppies arrived in San Francisco in a van Thursday, some trembling, tails between their legs, others with sad but hopeful eyes, and all of them unaware of how close they came to an agonizing, gruesome death. (SF Gate)

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Memoji Keyboard Allows You To Emojify Yourself

Johnny Lin, an ex-Apple engineer, created a way for users to upload their own faces as emoji. Angry Asian Man Phil Yu tries it out.

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is Doing Shockingly Well in South Korea

Why is the movie such a huge hit in the South Korean film market? Cinema Blend speculates the reasons, from the visuals to the high fashion costume design to director Matthew Vaughn’s popularity in South Korea.

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23 Most Anticipated Korean Films of 2015

Modern Korean Cinema lists the Korean films they’re most looking forward to this year.

Homebrew and House Parties: How North Koreans Have Fun

“Despite restrictions on money and free time, partying is integral to North Korean culture. But how does it compare to cutting loose in the South?” writes The Guardian.

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Korean Star Jung Ho Kang May Be Much Better Than Advertised

“In so many words, clubs just didn’t see many reasons to be optimistic about Kang,” writes Bleacher Report. “But as early as it is, one wonders how many are thinking differently these days.”

Searing Complaint Against Korean Church

The Contra Costa Korean Presbyterian Church is being sued for negligence in their hiring of a youth pastor, who the plaintiff claims repeatedly sexually molester her and her sister.

Shinhan Bank President Cho Yong-byoung Pledges to Solidify Status as Leading Bank

In his inauguration speech on March 18, Shinhan Bank President Cho Yong-byoung emphasized, “I will solidify our status as a leading bank.”

Cho said, “Through ceaseless innovation, we must create new opportunities and values and maintain the highest level of profitability and soundness.”

GM Canada Gets New General Counsel and Assistant GC, Peter Cho

It won’t be Cho’s first time behind the wheel of an automotive law department. He was most recently general counsel, corporate secretary and head of government relations at Volkswagen Group Canada, and has also has worked with Volkswagen Group China and Kia Canada.

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K-Town Landmarks Hope to Begin Summer Construction

The Olympic Gateway, a long-projected landmark for Los Angeles’ Koreatown, as well as the Madang project at Da Wool Jung, are expected to begin construction as soon as mid-May.

Korean Calligraphy Exhibition Open at Chicago Korean Cultural Center

On display are about 70 works by students of Kit-beol Village Calligrapher Lee Chul-woo. (Korea Times)

Four Korean American Officers Join Fairfax County Police Department After Graduating Academy

Arthur Cho, John Hong, Seung Meang and Shane Oh were among the 60 new police officers and deputies who graduated from the academy. This is the first time in the history of the department that an academy class had this many Korean-American graduates. (Centreville Independent)

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University Tuition

UC President Apologizes for Calling Student Protests Over Tuition ‘Crap’

Pictured above: University of California Berkeley student Kristian Kim throws fake money while starting a protest during a UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

University of California President Janet Napolitano issued a public apology yesterday for describing a student protest as “crap” during a regents meeting on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“I’m sorry for using a word I don’t usually use,” Napolitano said at Thursday’s regents meeting at UC San Francisco. She admitted to using an “unfortunate” choice of words, but she also asked for “empathy and understanding” in what led to the remark.

Kristian Kim (pictured above) was one of about 30 student protesters in the meeting who, during the public comment period, began yelling and stripping down to their underwear and exercise clothing, revealing the words “Student Debt” written on their bodies. It was during the yelling that Napolitano leaned over regents chairman Bruce Varner and said, “Let’s just break. Let’s go, let’s go. We don’t have to listen to this crap.”

Her microphone caught the words, which were discernible on the UC’s live video stream of the meeting. Napolitano and the regents left the room, followed by the protesters after a warning from the police. No arrests were made, and the regents resumed the meeting.

Needless to say, the remark definitely didn’t sit well with the students.

“It’s an insult to have her as the president of UC,” Kim told CBS News. “I don’t know where she’s coming from, but I’m assuming she’s never had to deal with these issues personally. So I can understand why there would be a disconnect there.”

One of the more pressing issues students were protesting was the proposal for a 5 percent tuition increase every year for the next five years. Napolitano and California Governor Jerry Brown have gone back and forth on possible tuition hikes: The governor has proposed increasing state revenue for UC by $120 million, or 4 percent, next year, but only if tuition remains frozen for a fourth consecutive year, according to the L.A. Times. Napolitano maintained that the UC needs $100 million more than Brown’s proposal to cover costs, such as pensions and salaries; otherwise, the 5 percent hike would be necessary.

So far, the regents have authorized Napolitano to increase undergraduate tuition for California residents by as much as $612 in 2015-16, to $12,804, which does not include room, board and individual campus fees. If the 5 percent hikes kick in over the next five years, California undergrads could be paying $15,564 by 2019-20.

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Roy Choi’s Loco’l Indiegogo Campaign Meets $100K Goal

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Last night, chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson reached their $100,000 crowdfunding goal for their “revolutionary” fast food chain Loco’l, making it the most successful food campaign on Indiegogo, reports L.A. Eater.

Choi and Patterson first launched their crowdfunding campaign in January in order to provide affordable, nutritious and locally-sourced fast food to inner city areas.

Now that Loco’l is fully funded on the crowdfunding side, it looks like the chain’s first two locations, Los Angeles’ Watts and San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhoods, are good to go. Once the two spots are up and running, Choi and Patterson will look to expand their chain to other possible locations, including East Oakland, Pacoima, Richmond and Anaheim.

Today is the last day of the Loco’l crowdfunding campaign, so if you still want to contribute, you can donate a few bucks on the campaign’s Indiegogo page.

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Featured image via Loco’l Indiegogo page

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Former MLB Coach Wendell Kim Dies at 64

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Wendell Kim, a former coach for several MLB teams, as well as a former minor league player, died on Sunday near his home in Arizona after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 64, reports the Chicago Tribune. He is survived by his wife along with his son, daughter-in-law and grandson.

Wendell Kealohepauloe Kim was born on March 9, 1950 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Doris and Phil Kim (The meaning of his middle name is “never ending love”). His family relocated to Long Beach, California, to help his father’s boxing career.

The St. Louis Sports Page published a feature on Kim this past August detailing his rough childhood and being diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. It describes Kim’s father as abusive to his wife and children, who was then killed in 1958, possibly by the mob, for refusing to throw a fight.

Kim would rise above the traumatic events of his childhood. He took up baseball in high school at the encouragement of his mother. After graduating from Banning High School in Wilmington, California, Kim attended Cal Poly Pomona and played three years of baseball, setting school records and being selected twice for the All-California Collegiate Athletic Association team.

In 1973, Kim traveled to San Francisco without telling his mother to participate in an open try-out with the Giants, who signed him as an undrafted free agent. That began the first of 24 years with the Giants organization.

Using his height as a motivational factor, Kim, at 5-foot-4, would spend eight years playing as a second baseman, unfortunately never cracking the big league roster despite posting a .363 on-base percentage in 2,525 plate appearances. He was no slouch: Kim at the time benched 320 lbs and leg pressed 1,000 lbs.

After a coaching and managing stint in the minors, Kim joined the Giants coaching staff in 1989, quickly making a name for himself with his passion, as well as his aggressive baserunning decisions. During his tenure as the third base coach, the Giants won the pennant in his first year and won 103 games in 1993.

WKimKim as the San Francisco Giants’ third base coach. Photo via McCovey Chronicles.

Known as “Wavin’ Wendell” or “Wave ‘em in Wendell” for his aggressive style, Kim became one of the most recognizable third base coaches in San Francisco Giants history, a position he held until 1996. While he drew the ire of fans for being over-aggressive in sending baserunners home only to be thrown out, he was always the first to take responsibility if he made a mistake in the media.

Regardless, his enthusiasm and energy made him a fun figure to watch. Kim cut a diminutive figure among his fellow coaches and players, but he would be the first one to sprint out of the dugout and take his place in the third base coaching box. 

Kim was dismissed by the Giants following the 1996 season and went on to join the Boston Red Sox as their third base coach from 1997-2000. He was voted Man of the Year in 1997 by the Red Sox, becoming only the second non-player to receive the award in 33 years. After coaching with the Milwaukee Brewers and Montreal Expos, Kim made his final stop of his career with the Chicago Cubs before retiring in 2005.

You can make a donation in Kim’s name to the North California chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association here.

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Roy Choi’s Fast Food Restaurant Loco’l Launches Crowdfunding Effort

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Fast food chains aren’t known to crowdfund, but Loco’l isn’t your normal fast food restaurant. Spearheaded by chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, Loco’l is touted as a locally sourced and affordable fast food option.

The first location is set to open in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood later this year. The funds from the Indiegogo campaign will go towards building that first restaurant. As of Jan. 14, 2015, the campaign has raised 7 percent of its $150,000 goal.

“Our vision with Loco’l is to create a fast food concept that’s delicious, but do it with the heart of a chef,” the Indiegogo campaign page says. “As chefs, we’re approaching it just like we would another restaurant … Then on the other side of it is being aware of what fast food is and what it’s become in America, and why it’s so important, popular, and powerful. Not trying to throw all of those things away.”

“We’re just trying to take it back to basics,” the page continues. “A lot of these fast food chains weren’t evil before. Somehow along the line as businesses grow, money and things start to change your decisions. Then before you know it, sometimes you don’t know which way is up anymore. Our philosophy in this is always to know which way is up. As chefs, we would never get to the point where we would be serving poison to people.”

One basic staple of fast food is the burger, and according to Choi, the cornerstone of Loco’l will be a 99 cent burger. The challenge will be not to make it a gourmet burger, but something that “feels, tastes, looks, smells, and sits in your hand just like a Quarter Pounder.”

Perks for contributors include with a social media shout-out, Loco’l sticker, signed copies of the chefs’ individual books (including Choi’s L.A. Son), and even opportunities to personally hang out with the chefs or get a private cooking class with Chef Chad Robertson from Tartine.

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Starring Act with Corey Lee

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

The San Francisco Bay Area culinary scene boasts a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, but only four can now claim the highest three-star rating. Benu, which specializes in minimalist fare with Korean and Chinese influences, is one of them.

The restaurant’s chef de cuisine and owner, Corey Lee, knows something about the stars. The 37-year-old has worked at acclaimed restaurants in Europe and served as chef de cuisine at the three-star French Laundry for seven years before opening Benu. Receiving the top rating for Benu in 2015’s Michelin Guide, Lee told KoreAm via email, was “surreal.”

In March 2015, chefs and foodies alike can catch a glimpse into Benu’s history and philosophy through the Benu cookbook. It won’t feature your typical collection of recipes, however. The 256-page book will include 150 photographs and illustrations and is presented as a 33-course tasting menu. Readers will be able to experience not only the making of Benu’s cuisine, but also the inspirations behind it through personally written essays and stories from Lee.

Featuring forewords by Thomas Keller, Lee’s mentor at the French Laundry, and Momofuku chef-founder David Chang, the book also delves into Lee’s culinary and cultural influences from Korea, Hong Kong, Europe and San Francisco.

Lee, who just opened Monsieur Benjamin, a modern take on the casual French bistro that has quickly established itself as a go-to late-night dining option in San Francisco, spoke to KoreAm about his busy year.

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The dishes of Benu: sea bass (left) and chicken velvet.

How did you react when you heard in October that Benu had been awarded three Michelin stars?

Corey Lee: It was a surreal moment. I was a bit speechless. For most of my career, Michelin itself was this distinction that was reserved only for European restaurants. Getting Michelin stars as a chef in America was not even possible. In fact, I spent years in Europe so I could experience the kitchen and culture of three-star restaurants. And now, getting three stars at Benu—well, it’s a pretty special thing for me.

Does the third star add or change anything about the way you run your restaurant?

Not really. I always felt we pushed ourselves to be the best restaurant we were capable of running. There’s not much more you can do than that. I think, more than anything, we have to be aware and cognizant of people’s expectations. They’re even higher than they were before, and that can be a double-edged sword.

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Image of the Benu cookbook by Phaidon Press.

What can people expect from the Benu cookbook?

I started working on the book in summer 2013. I think it will give readers an inside look into Benu—its influences, operations, background—things you might not know by just dining here.

What are the most important elements to a good cookbook? And what are some examples of your favorite cookbooks?

To learn something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a recipe or technique; it could be a way of thinking about a menu or the history of a particular dish. If I’m spending the time to read a book, I want to be able to learn something new. My favorite two cookbooks are The Great Chefs of France and Science and Civilisation in China. Neither is a traditional cookbook, but they were probably the most influential to me.

What do you think another top-rated Michelin restaurant has done for San Francisco’s food culture?

I think San Francisco has been a world-class destination for food lovers for quite some time already. Having three-star restaurants in San Francisco just affirms how diverse and exciting the food scene really is in the Bay Area. It’s a good thing for everyone.

Does the Bay Area add any of its own unique culture to the “traditional” three-star experience?

Absolutely. The cliché is that Bay Area restaurants cook seasonally and use the best produce. But at the 3-star level, I think that should be a given no matter where the restaurant is [located]. For me, what makes the Bay Area unique is that there is a distinct casualness to the fine dining. Michelin is about what’s on the plate, not how fancy the dining room is or how formal the service. I think that’s really evidenced here.

For aspiring restaurateurs and chefs, what would you say are the most important components of running a restaurant and kitchen?

Stamina, vision and open-mindedness.

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Featured photo courtesy of Eric Wolfinger

This article was published in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the December/January issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

 

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Roy Choi’s Fast Food Restaurant to Open in San Francisco Next Year

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Not many individuals can create a fast food chain from the ground up, but not everyone is Roy Choi.

After announcing his latest venture with Chef Daniel Patterson back in the summer, Choi made the official announcement yesterday that the first location of the chain, called loco’l, will be in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Locals can expect the restaurant to open by late spring/early summer.

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Choi and Patterson unveiled their plans for the fast food chain back in August at the MAD3 symposium. Patterson said that they planned to start a business that could grow quickly to “supplant the fast-food chains and convenience stores that separate our youth from the taste of real food.”

“I envisioned a new kind of fast-food restaurant that served real food in a nice environment, and which could contribute to the neighborhood around it in myriad ways,” he added. “My answer lay to the south, in Los Angeles, where Roy Choi was bringing people together from all over the city around Kogi—food trucks that served tasty, hard-to-categorize food.”

For Roy Choi, loco’l is his latest project in offering affordable and healthy options–a rare “food oasis–to neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts.” Last year, Choi opened 3 Worlds Cafe in South Central Los Angeles, an idea that originated from a fruit cart project Choi was running at the local Jefferson High School.

“Price point, culture, design, hospitality, relevance and most of all flavor,” Choi said to Inside Scoop SF in August. “We will be using all our sciences and knowledge and sixth sense as restaurateurs/chefs to create a concept people love and a menu they crave, but keep it all in the pocket, keep it all affordable and delicious, and speak to what the people want.”

The location was seemingly the perfect fit for the restaurant, which is part of an overall community project. The intersection of Taylor Street and Turk, where loco’l will open, will be seeing was identified as one of nine “action zones” by the Tenderloin Health Improvement Partnership (TLHIP) with the goal of rebuilding and revamping the neighborhood. Future locations for loco’l include other inner-city “food deserts,” including Oakland, Pleasanton and Watts in L.A.

Loco’l plans to offer a menu with options like tofu-and-grain-heavy burgers, veggie bowls, falafel, rice bowls, and other items in the $2-6 range, according to Eater SF. The restaurant will also feature a “multi-use commissary kitchen” for cooking classes hosted by Patterson and The Cooking Project, a San Francisco nonprofit.

As the Bay Area gets its first taste of Roy Choi, Southern California can’t get enough of him. Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Swingers) and Choi announced back in September that they were trying to open a restaurant in Los Angeles featuring some of the cuisine from Chef, a film that chronicled their road trip. Along with the Kogi truck, Choi’s current list of restaurants in Los Angeles includes 3 Worlds Cafe, Chego!, Sunny Spot, A-Frame and POT at the Line Hotel in Koreatown.

Don’t forget, Choi also has his own reality show on CNN coming up sometime in 2015, too.

Feature image via Grub Street