Korean food seems to be an upwardly trending topic in the food world lately. The brilliant David Chang of the Momofuku empire is at the forefront of introducing Korean flavors to his unique menu, and there are other chefs like Corey Lee of French Laundry (former chef de cuisine) and Roy Choi of Kogi truck bringing attention to Korean food. However, can Korean food become mainstream in America like how sushi, Thai and Indian has become? Could Korean food succeed in middle America? Time will tell but there’s a big movement getting under way that started with the Korean government investing in globalizing Korean food. A Korean-American TV producer is trying to help this cause by illuminating Korean food through sight sound and motion with a 13 episode television series on PBS. Eric Rhee had recently produced the highly successful food and travel show, “Spain on the Road Again” with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali. This up and coming TV producer hasn’t even hit his thirties and he’s already worked with the biggest chefs and Hollywood A-listers. He’s currently in the midst of filming the Korean food show with one of the world’s greatest chefs, Jean Georges Vongerichten and his wife Marja, who is of Korean descent. They’ve been traveling back and forth between South Korea and New York as production is in full gear. Hopefully people will get to see and understand the essence of Korean food and the variety available for all different tastes through Eric’s show.
Our friends at KAFFNY conducted the first US interview with Eric so take a read to find out more on this upcoming TV show and check it out on PBS in 2011.
D.K. What is the project you are currently working on and what inspired you to do it?
E.R. I’m currently working on a TV series for PBS called “Stop and Bap” (working title). It’s a food and travel series about Korean food and culture with Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten and his wife Marja, a Korean American adoptee with an amazing story.
My biggest inspiration is my mom. Her love for food and cooking for our family is something I am so grateful for and something I feel many Korean Americans have in common. Also, having produced on a similar series about Spain with Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Bittman, and Claudia Bassols, I felt the need to also do a series that shares the beauty of Korea, it’s people, history and culture.
D.K. What is the scale/scope of this project? What is the size of the production?
E.R. The final product will be 13 half-hour episodes expected to air on PBS starting Spring 2011. We are also producing a companion book to the series that will have photos and recipes of the trip by Marja and Jean Georges. Another important goal we would like to do is setup a website that gives people the ability to watch the series, learn the recipes, and even purchase some of the ingredients from our site.
In terms of the actual production, we like to travel as light and lean as possible. We usually travel 3-4 cameramen, a sound engineer, some lighting personnel, the director, myself, a couple production support staff and the talent. It ends up being anywhere from 10-15 people traveling like the Brady Bunch.
For the full interview, go to KAFFNY.