Monday, July 27, 2015

From the border to the kitchen - A Chef's Story

In the professional kitchen, you are likely to come across individuals from all walks of life. Everyone has a story. There is the former felon who found his calling while being locked up in prison. There is that annoying, inexperienced, know-it-all culinary extern that thinks he’s the next Iron Chef. There is that law school drop-out who decided that studying law was no longer of his/her interest. And cooking just seemed more exciting, so there they are. There is the aspiring restaurateur who is there to learn the ropes of the trade. There is that third or fourth generation chef that was just born into the business and knows of nothing else. Then there are the survivors who, through the kitchen, are given a chance. 
Walk into any random kitchen in America and you will find that it’s the survivors that are running the show. A typical survivor has a far different story than your average middle class culinary school grad chef that has racked up thousands in student loans because he/she was fueled with passion to enter the kitchen. The survivor usually ends up in the kitchen because that was often times the only option.
Meet Efrain Ventura, a survivor that prevailed over gruesome obstacles to rise above.
Listening to Efrain’s stories has inspired me to share an inside look into an example of what a survivor has endured and overcome, and the role that the kitchen has played in their survival. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jjimjilbang Virgin

The weather has been dreadfully hot lately. I HATE summer (as if you didn’t already know)! I hate the heat waves. I hate not being able to sleep at night because it’s too hot. I hate the loss of appetite I feel due to the heat. I hate going outside and being unbearably defeated by the heat. I hate stepping into my car and finding the steering wheel too hot. I hate getting all grumpy because it's too hot. Yeah, I hate summer. Well, okay. I hate summer in socali. Maybe if I was living somewhere else that wasn't as hot, it wouldn’t be as bad. I am so ready for summer to be over and done with so that we can welcome fall. I love fall.

Suffering from the heat made me kind of curious about the igloo rooms at jjimjilbangs (Korean spa/bathhouse). From what I’ve seen on Kdramas, it basically looks like an ice room that you go into to just chill and cool down. I have been trying to muster up the courage to go to a jjimjilbang. I am probably the only Korean that hasn’t been to one. I just haven’t really been too interested until recently.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Saying Grace

For me, giving thanks for the meal about to be eaten has been a ritual since I can remember. Growing up, I learned to be thankful for each meal I was about to inhale. Each meal was a blessing from God and deserved a moment of gratitude. I first learned to say grace in Sunday school, back when I was in Kindergarten.

Shame on me, but these days, I have been horrible with saying grace each and every time. When I do, it is usually when certain company is present, -certain family members and/or church acquaintances.

The other day, I was at a restaurant. I had a mad craving for kalguksu (kal: knife, guksu: noodles). I stopped by Myung Dong in Anaheim, CA to satisfy the craving.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

6-25 (yuk-yi-o AKA the Korean War) ramblings

In remembering the upcoming anniversary of 6-25, referred to as yuk-yi-o (June 25th   when the Korean War started in 1950), I’ve decided to share my story on how the war had shaped my family’s lives. Oh yeah and how the war gave birth to one of my favorite dishes, the budaejjigae (army based soup). Watch Anthony Bourdain loving some budaejjigae. He eats so deliciously.

Budae=army base

Sunday, June 21, 2015

1.) Letter to Self - 2.) Letter to Future Readers

I have just completed the first draft of my book. And here I go....getting all dramatic and writing letters like it's a huge deal lol.

A Letter to Self

Dear self,

Well, you finally did it. You have finally finished writing a book. You should be proud that you stuck with it until the end this time. Okay fine, don’t be too proud yet. You’ve only finished the easy and fun part so far, the first draft. I hope that you are enjoying your time off from the book and resting while you can. What lies ahead is sure to bring unimaginable headaches, wanting to shoot yourself moments, sleepless nights, tears, heartaches, and possibly every emotion known to mankind. Brace yourself. Be prepared. The end results will be greater in reward. Your efforts are sure to shine in the end. Just keep going no matter what. You got this.    
Like I said, save the proud moment for later when it has been earned. Well, maybe you do have a right to be a little proud….maybe 10% proud for seeing the fun and easy part to the end. When was the last time you finished writing a book? In the fifth grade when you created that fairy tale novel of a dozen pages or so? Of course you remember. You wrote, illustrated, and crafted (with construction paper that was held together with a string that book. It was that story that the teacher accused you of plagiarizing. It was the story you spent time thinking and thinking of and creating all on your own.

You had what was probably your first writer’s block back then. And when inspiration finally hit, you wrote what you thought was one of your best work only to have the teacher say, “You were supposed to create your own story, not write the same story from one of the books,”
You were flabbergasted. What was she talking about? You had read most of the fairy tale books in the class during leisure reading time. Frustrated and angry at being accused, you go to the back of the room to dig through all of the selected books that were stacked standing in that week’s book box. You have read almost every book in there. Then, you come across an unfamiliar book that you have seen but not ever read or looked through. It must have been that one fairy tale book you had missed. You flip through it. The story is identical to yours. How could this be? You thought of the plot all on your own. You put imagination and creativity into it. But someone else had written the exact same story. “WTF??” your little mind thinks. With no way to prove yourself, you have no choice but to rewrite another fairy tale for that assignment. It is second best to your masterpiece, but what else could you do? As infuriated as you were, you are impressed with yourself.

And now, XX years later, you complete your first book since that fairy tale. Sure, you have finished writing plenty of short stories in your Short Story writing classes as a Creative Writing major. But remember those partial WIP scripts you have submitted in your novel writing class? Whatever happened to those two novels that you were supposed to go somewhere with? It was one of your last classes in college. When school was over and done with, you never once looked back on those WIP’s.
And then you grew up, got a job, and before you knew it, you were just another regular 9-5er bored to tears every day as you rot at your desk.

Years later, the foodie in you decides to enroll in culinary school. You have zero desire to even consider working in the kitchen as most of the students there do. You just want to expand your foodie-ism and learn to cook better at home. Culinary school seemed more practical and fun than if you were to take weekly cooking classes at the local likes of Sur Le Table and such. Culinary school meant playtime in the kitchen every night…and eating yummy every night. So sure why not…
Being at the time of recession, your freelance work suffers, as did many businesses everywhere. To supplement your income, you start to pick up kitchen work here and there. But deep inside, you know it’s not what you want to do. You hate it. But hey, you spent all that money on culinary school and it would be a crying shame if you made no use of it at all with that little shit paper they hand out when you complete the program, right?

As a lover of food and writing, you feel that writing about food has to be your calling. You start on an inspired-by-a-true-story novel halfway into the program. You tell everyone you know that you are writing a book inspired by the world that they are a part of. You start brainstorming. Once you think you have something, you share the details with all your culinary school classmates. The book is centered around aspiring chefs (just like them). They feign interest when you tell them that some of the characters in your book are going to be inspired by them. They ask when the book will come out. You tell them….hmmm…in about a year or so.  
When the program ends, so does the life of your book. Life becomes busy again. There is little to no leisure time at all to invest in writing.

Years pass by. Working in the kitchen somehow turned into your main job. You are still puzzled how all this happened when that was not the plan. “When I find the time one of these days, I am going to write and finish a book,” you tell yourself time and time again. But time is nowhere to be found. But you don’t want another five years, and then ten years to pass by again only to say, “I wish I had,”
No, years from now, you are going to want to say, “I did it. And I will do it again,”

Besides, you are much better apt now to tell the kind of story that you were trying to tell some years ago. With a similar plot, your pigeonholed story was revamped….with similar but new and improved characters, more realistic scenes, and told from a more mature voice.
So here we are now…first draft finished and in the early impressionable stages of life. And we are about to embark on one heck of a journey in preparation of when it is going to finally be ready, ready to go out into the world. Please don’t lose focus and don’t let this one die. Let’s do this, self!


Your #1 fan,


A Letter to the Future Readers of my Book

Dear future readers of my book,

First of all, I want to say thank you for your interest. Thank you for choosing my book out of the gigantic pool of the many fabulous books out there, -books written by accomplished and esteemed authors that actually know how to write.
I also want to apologize ahead of time. God’s honest truth is that I am clueless of what I am doing. Half of the time, I have no idea what I am doing or if I am doing it right. In just writing my first draft, I am pretty sure that I have broken every rule in the writing book. Some of you might find my book to be garbage. Heck, even I think it is pure garbage sometimes….well, with the first draft anyways. But first drafts are supposed to be garbage, right? There have been times when I almost felt like I should just be leaving it to those that actually know what they are doing.

But nonetheless, I will continue to write. And I will continue to edit, revise, rewrite, rewrite, revise, edit, edit, edit, and repeat until my garbage turns into a masterpiece.....errr...or as close to as I can possibly make it. lol
I choose to write because I want to give life to the characters that only my imagination can create. The world needs them.

While I continue to work on this little first book of mine, I promise to draw from every creative fiber from within to bring you into a world that you want to become a part of.
I also promise to read as much as I can on everything about writing fiction, more specifically, romance. I don’t want to embarrass myself or be criticized when the time comes. I want to give you a story that I am proud of. That can only be accomplished if I am to put my heart and soul into it. And that, I intend to do. I will do it for you, my future readers.

I am not going to lie to you. There may be times when the WIP gets pushed to the side. Life happens..shit happens…..there may be times when I may take a break from the whole process to clear my head. But one thing that I promise is that no matter how long it takes, how painful the whole experience can become, I AM going to bring this book to life. And I intend to take you on a memorable journey. That’s all.




Miss Kim