A ris­ing star in the lo­cal F&B scene, the South Korean chef dishes an en­tree on pas­sion and per­se­ver­ance

Singapore Tatler - - CONTENTS -

South Korean chef Sun Kim dishes an en­tree on pas­sion and per­se­ver­ance

The first dish chef sun kim made that he was proud of was the clas­sic Korean stew, kim­chi jji­gae. With min­i­mal cook­ing skills, the then 14-year-old re­lied only on his pen­chant for ex­per­i­ment­ing and what he had picked up from watch­ing his mother run the fam­ily’s hum­ble restau­rant. The home-cooked dish was an instant hit with his older brother and marked the be­gin­ning of an ad­ven­ture that has seen Sun go from cut­ting cab­bage at a tonkatsu shop in Seoul, to be­ing the chefowner of the Miche­lin-starred Meta restau­rant in Sin­ga­pore. The Le Cor­don Bleu-trained chef cut his teeth at Tet­suya’s in Syd­ney be­fore join­ing Waku Ghin in Sin­ga­pore in 2014. A year later, thanks to his good friend Rishi Naleen­dra of Cheek by Jowl who in­tro­duced him to an in­vestor, Sun struck out on his own. Af­ter a rocky start, the South Korean chef led Meta to at­tain its first Miche­lin star in 2017. The con­tem­po­rary Asian restau­rant re­tains the ac­co­lade this year, while its sis­ter restau­rant Kimme, which takes its moniker from Sun’s child­hood nick­name, looks set to be the next culi­nary star.

“With Meta, I had to start from scratch. I was a no­body in the in­dus­try, so build­ing a team was dif­fi­cult. I also hadn’t found my culi­nary iden­tity, so my dishes were mere ren­di­tions of what I’d been do­ing pre­vi­ously. I wasn’t sat­is­fied, and the bad re­views re­ally af­fected me. My team and I even­tu­ally found our foot­ing, but it took us a year of hard work.” “Since I opened my own restau­rants, the work never ends. When I travel for leisure, I find my­self ei­ther look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion in the food I eat or I’m buy­ing crock­ery for my restau­rants. When I pick up a book to read at home, it’s usu­ally about cook­ing too. I think the only time my mind is off work is when I’m at the gym.”

“When I was ap­ply­ing for chef jobs, Tet­suya’s was one of the most dif­fi­cult restau­rants to get into, so it took a while be­fore I got an in­ter­view. I re­mem­ber my first day on the job where I was im­me­di­ately put to the test and asked to cre­ate a dish in 30min us­ing duck breast, onion and zuc­chini. Thank­fully, I passed!”

“I moved to Sin­ga­pore four years ago, and now I’ve got­ten quite fa­mil­iar with the lo­cal cui­sine and pro­duce. Now, I have to start my day with a cup of kopi peng (pic­tured with Sun) from the cof­fee shop op­po­site Meta. I’ve also been ex­per­i­ment­ing with South­east Asian flavours lately, us­ing sam­bal, XO sauce and fish head curry in my dishes.”

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