K-chefs heat up the Kitchen
After K-pop and K-drama, are K-chefs the next big thing? We conduct a taste test on four Korean cooking variety shows that have been whetting viewers' appetites
WEDNESDAY FOOD MEETING
On The Menu:
The longevity of this one-hour talk show, now into its 61st episode and airing in Korea, is startling.
Well-known hosts Jun Hyun Moo and Shin Dong Yup (right) discuss the recipe, history and culture behind a dish with a different panel of six guests each week.
Recent celebrity appearances include Girls' Generation's Sunny and SHINEE's Taemin.
Secret Ingredient: While straight-talking Jun often lands himself in a soup, it is undeniable that his wit and humour add an edge to an otherwise bland product. Though educational, it becomes draggy and repetitive at times. It is also a wonder why there are no hands-on segments for the guests to display their cooking talents (or lack thereof).
Perhaps half-hour episodes of the show's best parts would better appeal to consumers with short attention spans.
Satisfaction Level: 6/10
HOME FOOD RESCUE 2
On The Menu:
Through a slew of cooking shows, Chinese cuisine chef Baek Jong Won (left) has become a household name in Korea, even earning the nickname "Baek-jubu", meaning homemaker Baek in Korean.
Though not a professional chef himself, he was known as the owner of nearly 30 restaurant franchises in Korea.
In the second season of the show, which airs on Channel M (StarHub TV Ch 824/Singtel Ch 518) on Fridays at 11pm, Baek takes in four male 'disciples' - celebrities Jung Joon Young, Kim Guk Jin, Lee Jong Hyuk and Jang Dong Min - and teaches them how to cook a dish every week.
Secret Ingredient: While viewers may wonder if Baek is qualified to appear on TV, having an amateur chef as its star means that recipes are often yummy but still fuss-free, such as kimchi fried rice and ham omelettes.
Viewers can also have a good laugh seeing the male celebrities struggle and fail in their cooking adventures, before we, too, end up in the same predicament.
Satisfaction Level: 7/10
3 MEALS A DAY
On The Menu:
Arguably the most popular show in this genre so far, it features actor Lee Seo Jin and Ok Taecyeon of K-pop boy band 2PM staying in the countryside for three days, cooking for themselves.
The format proved so popular a spin-off, 3 Meals a Day - Fishing Village, was created, featuring A-list actors Cha Seung Won, Yoo Hae Jin and rising actor Son Ho Jun.
It airs on Channel M (StarHub TV Ch 824/Singtel Ch 518) on Mondays at 6pm.
No surprise then that the male cast looks forward to weekly guests, including actress Choi Ji Woo and singer BoA.
Far from struggling, the men step up to the plate - fishing, farming and cooking outdoors while dealing with the weather.
Cha, who is well-known for his gangster roles in movies, has also gained the new nickname "Cha-jumma", meaning Auntie Cha in Korean, for cooking like a pro.
Secret Ingredient: Animals - but not those you cook.
From adorable kittens to zesty goats, these four-legged friends provide a lively contrast to the mundane tasks the human leads have to perform.
A video of Son playing with puppy San Chae and kitten Beoli, which has garnered 40,000 views online, had viewers gushing over - presumably- the cuter creatures.
Satisfaction Level: 9/10
SAM KIM'S LET'S COOK TOGETHER
On The Menu:
Best known for his Italian cuisine, celebrity chef Sam Kim has been chalking up points from female viewers who are drawn to his boyish personality.
From pastas to parfaits, Kim thoughtfully guides viewers in perfecting his recipes in his show, which ended its run in Korea last October but is available on YouTube.
He is generous in dishing out cooking tips unknown to most, such as how one should be light-handed in removing the seeds of a melon as that is where the sweetest parts of the fruit lie.
So recognised is Kim in Korea that a TV character, chef Choi Hyun Wook in the 2010 Korean drama Pasta, was based on him.
Secret Ingredient: Kim the chef-next-door whipping up children's food.
To make it easier for kids to swallow their meals, the father of a toddler even grates hard-boiled egg yolk in an egg mixture for an egg potato sandwich.
This is cooking from the heart, at its best.
Satisfaction level: 8/10