Cho Hee-sook, of Hansikgonggan, Seoul, has been named Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2020 at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Chef-owner of the intimate Korean fine dining restaurant only since 2019, Chef Cho’s recognition was a long time coming. Amongst her peers, Chef Cho is called the godmother of Korean cuisine, the Chef of the Chefs.
She counts numerous renowned chefs among her pupils, having passed most of her career focused on passing on the country’s culinary traditions to the future generation of chefs. Chef Cho was mentor to celebrated chef Mingoo Kang of Mingles (voted Best Restaurant in Korea four years in a row), who credits the Chef as one of his most influential mentors, adding she has “spent her life developing Korean cuisine”.
Her restaurant Hansikgonggan is located next to the old royal palace, Changdeokgung in Seoul, a rare scene of serenity among the skyscrapers of the capital city. The one-Michelin-starred establishment is specialised in royal court cuisine, recreating and reinterpreting centuries-old dishes that date back to the Joseon dynasty.
Cho combines her in-depth knowledge of Korean cuisine, gained from years of culinary research and as professor of gastronomy at Woosong University, to present strongly Korean dishes that appeal to both the traditionalist and a new generation of diners.
Accepting the prestigious award, Cho said: “Having mentored many young chefs throughout my career, I hope this award serves as an inspiration for other Asian female chefs to follow their passions, be ambitious and share their knowledge with others.”
Cho will be presented with her award at the ceremony for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, on Tuesday 24th March in Saga Prefecture, Japan.