Wooyoungmi’s Seoul Fashion Week highlight
In Korea, a fashion designer can dazzle with more than just clothes: brilliant food
Kuho Jung, the executive director of Seoul Fashion Week deeply believes that he can only make his fashion designers an international success when he connects them to Korean culture. Culture in the sense of theater, dance, K Pop of course, and even food.
So no wonder that he hosted a networking party at a scented candle store that is owned by a good looking actor and he served up champagne and Korean rice liquor. Or part of the entertainment program for foreign editors was a dinner hosted by Wooyoungmi at her sister’s restaurant My Allee. And what a fantastic dinner it was.
Madame Woo as she is referred to here in Seoul is one of the bigger success stories of Korean fashion as she has found a place on the Paris men’s schedule with her refined and modern tailoring and classic sportswear. She even runs a store in the Marais. Above all, like all Korean fashion success stories, her business is about the family and she is sharing the runway bow in Paris with her daughter Katie Chung or hosts the dinner at her sister’s retail store / restaurant which brings to mind the Sozzani sister association in Milan of retailer and editor. Here it’s designer and retailer.
The chef at My Allee is Kim Byung Jip and he is a master of his craft. Influenced by European cuisine he expertly balances those influences with classic Korean staples.
The highlight of the dinner was the introduction of 1(+) Han-Woo steak, the Korean equivalent of Kobe beef which the Koreans are very keen on stressing. Since Koreans consider Han-Woo beef a cultural icon and one of the top-quality beefs of the world, it is used in traditional foods, popular holiday dishes, or as a special-day gift or to dazzle fashion editors.
Byung Jip started the meal with “Ga-pyeong” a cold pine nut soup that brought an interesting twist to the Gazpacho approach. Deeply flavored pine nuts in a milky texture soup set off the meal perfectly. Interestingly, we were served Spanish wine, as the Koreans don’t make their own top wine.
The soup was followed by Salmon Gravlax with salmon roe on an Avocado purée which showed off Byung Jip’s leaning toward European cuisine as the plate presentation of rich orange from the salmon and the deep green of the avocado was offset with yellow edible flowers; a standard of the new bistronomy movement in Paris led by restaurants like Frenchie and Spring.
The tenderloin of Han-woo steak with pungent spring onion roots and a light purée was so smooth that it didn’t need to be cut with a knife but one could take it apart with a fork. The flavor of the beef has a slightly nutty finish. To enhance the beef aspect, the chef then brought out a classic French beef tartar with more Han-Woo meat but it was served as a Bi-bim-bap, the national Korean dish, so we were all busy mixing the egg yolk with the beef and the greens. The beef was cut thick and had wonderful texture.
Madame Woo’s kitchen team then brought out cardamom ice cream with fresh strawberries with coffee and Korean petit fours, which steeled our stomachs for a long night of Karaoke.