At the heart of this stands Jung Mee-hyun (‘97, Nutritional Science & Food Management), the styling lab team manager of La cuisine.
La cuisine which means food and kitchen is the first and leading culinary business in Korea starting from 2000. It not only conducts cooking classes but also food business consulting. Most of all, La cuisine is renowned for redefining the concept of food from tool of life into art and design. Its major clients include large corporations such as LG and fashion brand Chanel.
Jung’s career did not start as a caterer but rather as a producer at the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation’s News Magazine 2580, a popular news issue series program. She started working as the producer for five years after graduating from Ewha in 1997. Attending the Food Coordinator Academy as a way to relief the stress from her work at La Cuisine in 2002 for self satisfaction and joy became a turning point in her career.
“When I first expressed my wish to quit being a scenarist to work in the catering field, my parents and my neighbors were all against my decision,” Jung said.
Despite these oppositions Jung stepped into the world of professional catering industry by joining La Cuisine in 2005. After five years of her devotion at the company she now stands as the catering consultant.
“Back in 2003, people looked down on the catering service comparing it to diners,” said Jung with bitterness on her face.
However, Jung says catering is about satisfying all the five senses. Therefore, the caterers, party planners and cooks work together as a team to meet the needs of their clients. From the initial client-caterer meeting to the big event, catering involves a lot of planning and preparation, teamwork and creativity.
“Food is no longer a focal point, but rather the goal is how to deeply satisfy the customers with the right food and atmosphere,” Jung said.
Jung said she made a lot of mistakes when she first started working in the catering service. However, she recognized that each and every mistake she committed all became her know-how.
“The first party I conducted in my catering life helped me to set my conviction that ‘communication with a client is before everything’ which I have been acting up until now. It was a fashion company’s annual party with about 200 participants. We prepared finger food aiming mostly women. Unexpectedly, most of participants were men with little taste on beauty of food which means I failed to analyze my client and purpose of the event,” Jung said.
When Jung was asked about the charm of this hard work, witnessing the satisfied looks on the people appreciating the party as a result of her effort and time is a huge attraction.
With the increasing popularity of the food service industries, the type of people who enroll in the cooking classes have been diversified from elderly couples to income housewives and foreigners.
“La cuisine is also advertising for foreign students to take up Korean food classes and learn ways to set up a table in the Korean traditional manner,” said Jung.
Jung wanted to give heartfelt advices to those dreaming of becoming a food stylist or working in the catering industry.
“It is not that glamorous as viewed in mass media. It requires diligence, patience and even polished communication skills for clients. But if you can endure all the hardships, we will readily give you a hearty welcome,” Jung said.