Last Sunday was the premiere of The Kimchi Chronicles on PBS, billed as a star-studded exploration of Korean food & culture.
Being a somewhat of a "kimchi chronic" myself I was looking forward to this and learning more about Korean food.
Watching the first episode, it's clear to me that this show is aimed at inquisitive Americans who've never tried Korean food. The whole production is very low-key, easygoing, and nonthreatening. They introduced only a couple of ingredients and concepts very patiently so as not to overwhelm. At one point Hugh Jackman gets uncomfortable at the sight of hot pepper paste, and they are quick to reassure him that it's not going to get out of hand.
They talk about bibimbap and BBQ, and how delicious and healthy and easy it is, and there is nary a Korean face or accent in sight, and no hangul either. They are trying to coax apprehensive Americans into trying it out. It's very pleasant.
The show is sponsored by HMart and the Korean government who have an obvious stake in the success of Americans loving Korean food, and the show's creators have stated that they aren't going the "Bizarre Foods" route and things like live octopus are not going to be included. Each episode is going to concentrate on one ingredient at a time, nice and slow and thorough.
Will it be popular with Americans? Surely fans of guests like Heather Graham might tune in and get exposed to Korean food by accident. Apparently a large part of the upcoming episodes will center around the host exploring her heritage as a Korean adoptee, so if that story is interesting people might get invested in it. From what I saw, I think a lot of Korean adoptees in America will be interested in this show if they don't know much about their Korean heritage and don't speak Korean.
As for a kimchi chronic like me, this first episode was pretty remedial, but they haven't even got to Korea yet, so I'm going to give them a chance.
The Kimchi Chronicles airs on channel 13 in New York, almost every Sunday at 4pm.