|From left, the cast members John Park, Kwon Yu-ri, producer Lee Woo-hyung, Paik Jong-won, BamBam and Lee Jang-woo pose during the press conference for the tvN's reality show "The Genius Paik," held in Mapo District, Wednesday. Courtesy of tvN|
By Lee Gyu-lee
Celebrity chef and restaurant business owner Paik Jong-won is putting his skill to use to introduce Korean food to people around the world who are unfamiliar with the cuisine.
TvN's new reality show "The Genius Paik," scheduled to premiere on April 2, invites Paik and a group of celebrities to start their own restaurants in other countries where locals have had few chances of encountering Korean food.
The chef will start in Morocco with singer BamBam and actor Lee Jang-woo, and then head to Naples, Italy, with Lee, along with singers John Park and Kwon Yu-ri.
The show's producer, Lee Woo-hyung, said the team spent a long time developing the program and convincing Paik to get on board.
"We've talked about the show since three or four years ago. This is Paik's challenge to become world class," Lee said during the press conference for the show, held in Mapo District, Wednesday. "Like you've seen from his previous shows like 'Paik Jong-won's Alley Restaurant,' he's a tough mentor. So it would be nice to see the restaurateur side of him and see how well he does."
In each country, Paik and the team are given the mission to start a business within 72 hours with just 3 million won ($2,300).
|Scenes from tvN's reality show "The Genius Paik' / Courtesy of tvN|
Paik said the experience was shocking and grueling. "I thought (72 hours and 3 million won) would just be a concept at first but it was a real thing. So before anything else, like my business skills, the first thing that came out was curse words," he said. "When you watch it, you'll think 'how can they make Korean food here?'"
The producer shared that the production team did not disclose the destination to Paik and the cast members beforehand to give a more dramatic effect in starting a Korean restaurant.
"Our main focus is to take away the privileges Paik already has. The reason we kept our destinations a secret is that we didn't want Paik and his crew to research the areas beforehand," he said. "That's also why gave a minimum amount of money and limited time to prepare and start the business. We felt we would able to pull out a more natural and entrepreneurial side of Paik that way."
Paik said the hardest part was to familiarize the locals with Korean food, a cuisine that was still unfamiliar to them.
"Running a business abroad was much harder than doing it in Korea. You need to consider what their views are toward Korean food. I thought taste would be the most important thing to win over (the customers) but getting them familiarized with the cuisine was the most important part," he said. "We also had to think about the revenue to not get embarrassed, so we even took care of marketing. The co-stars didn't have experience in running a business but their opinions helped a lot. We would have meetings every night."
"The Genius Paik" will air every Sunday at 7:40 p.m.