Song Yong-wuk, a veteran chef specializing in French cuisine, has sought not only to treat customers with good food, but also to communicate closely with them by adding stories and themes to the special dishes.
|Song Yong-wuk, head chef of A La Maison Wine & Dine at Grand Mercure Ambassador Hotel and Residence Seoul Yongsan / Courtesy of Grand Mercure Ambassador Hotel and Residence Seoul Yongsan|
The monthly event invites guests to taste regional cuisine featuring the seasonal ingredients of various countries.
"It is not easy to prepare food that is available for only one day. As it is especially difficult to obtain a small quantity of ingredients, members of my team have climbed up a mountain to pick maple leaves, or gone to a salt farm to obtain salicornia herbacea," Song said in an interview with The Korea Times.
"Though there have been a lot of difficulties, the Chef's Choice Dinner has become a signature event of A La Maison Wine & Dine thanks to the passion of my team members and interest from the customers."
Song does not confine the menu to French cuisine, but selects a wide range of themes based on his knowledge and experience.
"Everything can be a theme of the Chef's Choice Dinner, including fusion foods of a variety of nations and Korean dishes," he said. "We have carried out a lot of research and tests to create the menu."
Once a theme and main ingredients of the month are decided, he holds a free debate with eight members of his team to generate bright ideas and plan the menu.
He puts importance on balance of the dinner course, considering many different aspects such as the taste and texture of each ingredient.
"In April, we are planning to present three kinds of bruschetta and will utilize three kinds of ingredients ― jamon, cheese and fish ― to offer various textures," he said.
He noted it is incredibly rewarding when customers give positive feedback and express their satisfaction, noting that the Chef's Choice Dinner has also helped him keep things fresh as the event forces him to try new things in the kitchen every month.
Song left for France in 1999 to learn French cooking at its fountainhead. He graduated from Institut Paul Bocuse, one of the country's elite education institutions offering courses in hospitality, food service and culinary arts management.