Posted: 16 Oct 2012 01:16 AM PDT
South Korean celebrity chef Edward Kwon hopes Yes Chef! Season 2 will see the birth of a new generation of talented chefs.
EDWARD Kwon is a man on a mission and the South Korean celebrity chef is not coy about it.
Sitting down for a casual lunch with Malaysian friends, Kwon looked no different from a college student in his plain coloured T-shirt, jeans and sneakers ensemble with his short-cropped hair ungelled.
Yet, when he related his vision for his fellow kitchen mates, his eyes sparkled with the conviction of a man driven by a dream that was close to realisation.
Kwon is determined to elevate the profile of a chef from a cook slaving in the kitchen to a glamorous celebrity good enough to represent the country. "Chefs can be sex symbols, too. And, they can also have fans screaming their name as well." Coming from a man who enjoys god-like status in his home country, Kwon must know what he is talking about.
The former chef of Dubai's seven-star Burj Al-Arab candidly reveals how he has endeavoured to put his chefs on the covers of magazines.
Laughing, he described how he had his boys pose for pictures, carrying a huge tuna on their backs while their shirts fall open to show off their sculpted abs.
"As you can imagine, the ladies simply went crazy over that, and the response was amazing. They would visit the restaurant just to see the boys.
"That is why in my future restaurants, the chefs will come out of the kitchen to serve their dishes and communicate directly with their diners as that is exactly what the customers want."
The affable chef also did not hide the fact that people would tell him to his face that he became famous due to his good looks and that no one would have paid him any attention if he weren't as handsome. "Well, yes, I agree with them. So, I tell my chefs the same. It's not enough to be able to cook well. You have to look good while doing it.
"And, they have asked me this: 'Are we supposed to be chefs or entertainers?' I tell them very frankly: Both. You have to be both. That's just the way it is."
And yet, even that isn't enough, says Kwon, who feels they should aim to be celebrity chefs and acquire the skills required for the job. "They have to know how to run a restaurant and be able to deal with the media as well as entertain fans. Yes, there is a lot to
be done and they must be prepared to work hard and long hours."
It takes time, effort and money, and Kwon is aware of that. So, to help his chefs maintain their sculpted physiques, Kwon says he is more than happy to pay them to go to the gym. "In Korea, there is a huge amount of pressure to look good; so much so that surgery is an easy option for many," quipped Kwon, who maintains that he is "all natural".
If you take your eyes off his face long enough, you will see that there are numerous visible scars on Kwon's limbs, a result of cuts,
burns and scalds from working in many a busy kitchen. Every single one of them tells a story that Kwon is happy to share. The deepest scar came about when he pulled a container from a shelf and a knife fell from above stabbing him in the arm.
Apart from the recently concluded EdVentures In Asia on Li, Kwon has also featured in other programmes like Edward's Live Kitchen, Challenge Star Chefs and Yes Chef!.
"Yes Chef! was a big hit in South Korea. I hope Malaysians will love the second season, too," he enthused.
As someone who has put in the hours to achieve his success, Kwon is also a staunch believer in tough love, which he dishes out in copious amounts on the show.
"People need to be pushed to achieve their full potential. I remember this fellow who didn't even know how to cook when he first started. After a good talking to, he went back and did his own research and homework.
"He came back later and surprised everyone by winning the challenge. He was that good. All he needed was that extra bit of motivation."
Kwon has been scouting locations for the perfect spot to open a restaurant in Malaysia and hopes to find a like-minded local partner to work with. Apart from that, he has also launched his own line of kitchenware – EK Cookward – here last month, making Malaysia the first country outside of his native South Korea, to sell the products.
Yes Chef! Season 2 airs on Li (Astro Ch 728) at 9pm on Tuesdays.
|You are subscribed to email updates from The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|