Chef Juno Kim
If you live in Vancouver and have even a cursory interest in food, you’re likely to have come across the bountiful and beautifully filtered photographs of Juno Kim’s whimsical pop-up dinners in your Instagram feed. The man is prolific, running his own full service pop-up food company (Juno Kim Catering), which specializes in multi-course dining experiences using locally sourced ingredients, as well as offering gastronomic services ranging from food styling to the creation of personal meal plans. When he’s not working his part-time gig at Merchant’s Oyster Bar (he’s part of the collaborative Chef team there) he’s teaching people how to pull off their own food-related successes through his company’s educational program. For this edition of Vancouver Special, we asked Juno to create a dish that evoked his conception of Vancouver while he chatted with us about seaweed, spruce tips and the local culinary scene, giving us a coveted glimpse of the process and inspiration behind his Wonderland-worthy creations.
Tell us about the dish you made for Vancouver Special. Salmon is one of Vancouver's biggest sustainable seafood exports, and central to the local natives and their culture. I decided to sear one side for texture and flavour, and baste the other side with brown butter. This gives the fish a delicate, poached texture. The vegetables and garnish selected were all local, as well. The shiso, red veined sorrel and nasturtiums were grown on the patio at Merchant's Oyster Bar by Chef David Jackman. There's a split crème fraîche & chive oil sauce on the bottom for a hit of flavoured richness to bring it all together.
How long have you called Vancouver home? Have you lived here your whole life? I grew up in Montreal then moved to Vancouver when I was 8. I've been here ever since!
What's your favourite thing about Vancouver? The duality of nature and civilization. I've always grown up in cities, but I've developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of the nature. Sourcing wild ingredients is never a chore.
Favourite place in the city? The Gastown/Chinatown area. There's a wealth of incredible restaurants and bars focusing on pushing the envelope. The quality of the chefs and bartenders, along with the constant flow of new businesses coming in keeps the area exciting.
Favourite local ingredient(s)? There are way too many to choose from! Elderflower, spruce tips, and sustainable seafood are some that come to mind. One thing I haven't seen too many chefs utilize for its local value is the plethora of seaweeds. We have beautiful sea lettuce, winged kelp, and many more varietals that can be incorporated into Eastern or Western-style cuisine.
If you had a friend from out of town visiting for only a couple of days, what would you take them to see and do in the Vancouver? A food tour would definitely be at the top of that list. We're blessed to have so many great restaurants, bars and food carts, like Farmer's Apprentice, Merchant's, Farina, Notturno, and the Juice Truck to name a few. Next, I'd take them for a foraging trip in the woods to show them the beauty of our city and the wild edibles and non-edibles that are local to Vancouver. Favourite foods or meals growing up? My mom made awesome Korean soups and stews. My favourites would be her kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) and soondubu jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew). She now brings them by for me once in a while, and it's always a treat!
Comfort food of choice? A grilled cheese sandwich paired with a hot tomato soup. It's not a very original response, but I think that's with good reason.