By Chung Jae Lee
Food plays a huge role in my life – it always has, and always will. I was born and raised in Seoul, so Korean food brings back fond memories of my food loving home city.
My parents have always been foodies. As a child, my siblings and I grew up surrounded by it. We would play upstairs while our parents ran the family restaurant downstairs. Our rooftop was a garden brimming with fruits, vegetables and herbs.
We ate according to the seasons. Summertime would consist of lots of cold noodles; Autumn – a lot of fruit; Winter would be soups and Spring – fresh micro herbs and sprouts.
As the seasons changed, so did the preparation of our food. Fresh chillies from the garden in summer would be dried for use in winter. We enjoyed great produce right through the year.
My school lunches would usually include rice, seaweed, kimchi (a Korean staple) and meat, packed in a stainless steel lunchbox, quite different to what was on offer in Australia at the time. There were definitely no ‘sangas!
Seoul is a city that never sleeps. Its noises and activities are endless. Street foods are a huge part of the food landscape in Korea.
When I first arrived in Australia, one of the things I will remember most is the smell of Hot Cross Buns. I confess I didn’t like it at first, however, I’ve come around!
After coming to Australia I trained to be a pilot and was a black belt Judo instructor – I even qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics! But food has always been my passion and drew me back in.
I’ve called Sydney, Adelaide and now Darwin home, and what I love the most is the willingness of people to try new cuisines, and to experience diverse cultures as a result. Particularly here in the Northern Territory!
My life was a lot harder growing up in Seoul than it is here in Australia. I believe that now I’m enjoying the best of both cultures – having picked out the elements I love of Korean and Western culture and enjoying the way of life here in Australia.
It brings me great delight to see people in Australia getting into Korean food and rightly recognising it as one of the world’s best cuisines!
A Taste of Harmony is an opportunity for workplaces to experience the joy of sharing food and stories that I have been lucky to enjoy all my life.
I encourage you to register your workplace, try new cuisines and learn about one another’s cultural heritage and customs.
Chung Jae Lee is Executive Chef and owner of Little Miss Korea. His cookbook Korean Cookbook: A twist on the traditional is available to purchase here: