How did you feel when you found out that you won Bravo's Top Chef Season 10?
“I was excited and nervous knowing the reputation of Top Chef. It put a lot of pressure on me to do well but at the end of the day I just thought it would be a really fun experience.”
What is your most memorable experience during the competition?
“It’s really hard to pinpoint just one. I would definitely say looking at the experience as a whole it would be getting to know so many great people and making fantastic friends.”
When you won the award, you said “I can finally go to Korea now.” What did you mean?
“I was flooded with so many emptions. I felt gratified in my career so I was ready to take on personal challenges. The experience of winning was so overwhelming and that emotion just kind of surfaced.”
Do you have any plans for visiting Korea? If so how long are you planning on staying?
“Plans are in the works and I'd like to go for a couple of weeks.”
What do you like to do the most when you visit Korea?
“I want to spend a couple of days doing tourist stuff and then I want to immerse myself in the culture and experience what my life would have been like if I wasn't adopted.”
When did you find out that you were adopted? Have you ever been confused about your identity as Korean or American? If so, how did you overcome this?
“I always knew I was adopted. Growing up my parents were very open about adoption and what it means. I looked different than everyone else so it made it very clear to me. I struggled like any other kid trying to find my identity but it was magnified by not knowing where I came from. I’ve never really had a struggle with identifying between Korean and American because I’m me and it's my normal. I'm a Korean American.
Do you have any advice for other people who were adopted from Korea when they were young?
“Embrace where you came from even if you can't go back. Know what being an adoptee means and it's value. It's nothing to be shy about. I'm very open about it. Nowadays it's very normal to be adopted.”
What is your favorite Korean food? What Korean food can you cook?
“ My favorite Korean food. Oh my gosh I have so many. I love japchae, kimchee and white kimchee broth. I leave Korean cooking up to the professionals.”
You were working as a model, why did you change careers to become a chef?
“To clarify I was never a full time model. It was a hobby. I went into modeling not for any particular reason other than I thought it would be a fun experience. At the end of the day I’m very glad that I did it because it taught me a lot about myself, like any other experience. I never had any crazy career change. My heart has always been in cooking and I always knew that I wanted be a chef for the rest of my life.”
Being a cook is physically demanding, how do you maintain your health?
“I’m not perfect but I try to stay aware of what is going to help me sustain my career and lifestyle for a long time whether it is the occasional run, drinking a green juice or sneaking in an apple every once in a while. Being on my feet for 16 hours keeps me active because it is so physically demanding that it’s my form of exercise. I try to sleep whenever I can. I'm always behind on sleep so whether it is on a plane or a nap on my day off I find sleep where I can.”
What are your plans or wishes for the future?
“My plans are to continue on at Menton and do what I set out to do here, whatever that may be. My wishes for the future are just to always be happy. The second I wake up and I’m not happy anymore is the day I'm going to do something else.”
How would you describe your personality? What are your main strengths?
“I describe my personality as relatively type A. I’m a mild control freak. I try to be as patient as possible and not let things get me flustered. On the other side of that when I am not at work I like other people to make decisions. I basically flip personalities. I like other people to tell me what to do because I need a break from making so many decisions.”
Is there anything else you would like to share with Boston Korea readers?
“Thank you for reaching out. I feel very honored to be embraced by the Korean community.”
ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지