Korean food may be the next Thai, says foodie during survey of 2011 trends
By: Judy Creighton, The Canadian Press
Chinese, Japanese and Thai foods have long been popular in Canada, but now it seems that Korean cuisine is the new rising star, according to foodies predicting trends for the upcoming year.
“I think Korean could become the next Thai food craze,” says Alison Fryer, manager of Toronto’s Cookbook Store, a magnet for cooking fans. “There is enough immigration from that country to support it and the food is inexpensive, and if you spent $12 you would have a feast.”
Lucy Waverman agrees. In November, the Toronto-based author, editor, columnist and teacher travelled on a cultural exchange to the G20 meeting held in Seoul, South Korea.
She notes that most Korean restaurants in Canada are “cheap and cheerful places; there aren't many sophisticated eateries," but she says that is beginning to change.
One example of an upscale Korean dining experience is Celadon, located in Whistler, B.C.
“Authentic Korean food is bold with rich flavours,” says the restaurant’s co-owner and chef Sonny Huh. “I don't think Canadians expected this because most eat their ‘Korean fix’ either at establishments with only grills or at fast-food-esque style restaurants, not in a formalized dining setting.”
Waverman says Korean is a very "specialized food and their barbecue is huge."
“For example, many specialize in short ribs so diners can cook their meal on a grill in the middle of the table so they can create their own barbecue.”
Diners may be treated to a relatively new phenomenon called the pop-up restaurant. Huh and his sister Maggie, who co-owns Celadon, are proponents of the mysterious dining venues and plan to introduce some in unexpected locales during their off-season next year, including a book store in Vancouver.
Pop-up restaurants have caught on in cities such as New York and London and are often opened in eateries that are shuttered for the off-season. The venues run for a limited time and then close. Knowledge of these rather secretive spaces tends to spread via word of mouth, which adds to their popularity as people clamour to try them before they shut their doors.
Fryer says that Scandinavian cuisine is really resonating in the food world. Last summer, she visited Noma, a now famous restaurant in Copenhagan. In 2010 it was chosen the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine for its unique take on Nordic cuisine.
She says we can relate to Rene Redzepi, the talented chef and co-owner of the Michelin-starred Noma, “because we learn from him what to eat locally in February.”
There is a resurgence of interest in homemade or bakery pies, breads and cookies “and the panini is really big now,” Fryer says.
She notes that over the past two years she has seen a growing interest in acquiring basic home cooking skills among teenagers shopping for cookbooks at the store.
“There has been a general interest in serious cooking and in basic theory,” she says.
Pondering that suggestion, Waverman, who trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and owned a school devoted to the teaching of good cooking, says it might be time television took on the task of airing shows teaching culinary skills.
“Julia Child taught a lot of people to cook on her television shows and Biba Caggiano did the basic stuff,” she says.
Caggiano's show “Biba’s Italian Kitchen” ran for years on cable networks in the U.S. and Canada and finally on Public Broadcasting in the U.S.
“Its time that TV networks recognized the need for basic information cooking shows as opposed to the current reality shows,” says Waverman.
For home chefs who want to try their hand at preparing Korean food, The Cookbook Store's Fryer says the two most popular Korean cookbooks carried at the moment are "Dok Suni: Recipes From My Mother's Korean Kitchen" by Jenny Kwak and "The Complete Book of Korean Cooking" by Young Jin Song.