5 Questions or Less: Andre Baranowski

If you’ve taken a look at the Kimchi Chronicles Cookbook, one of the first things you’ll notice is the beautiful photography. Responsible for these mouthwatering photos is Andre Baranowski, a NY-based photographer with a ton of experience in food photography. He boasts an  impressive resume, and has worked in editorial, advertising, and personal fine art work for big names such as Saveur, Time Inc., Kellogg, and many more. He’s lauded for his ability to find a personal connection with his subject, and  identify and express deeper meanings in his photos. With just a glance at some of his photos, his sheer talent and skill are easy to see.

You’ve done a wide range of photography, from stills to travel photos… What was it like to shoot Korean food?
Korean food is very photogenic and I personally like to eat it. There are a lot of fresh ingredients, different textures and colors, and a beautiful variety of side dishes. My approach to photographing food is translating the sensation of eating to a visual experience that will have an immediate impact on viewers. Light, texture, and color are my main ingredients. I do like a simple, powerful composition. Even when I use multiple sources of light,  I aim to make them look like one. My philosophy is one of sophisticated arrangement for a simple outcome.

What are your favorite moments from Kimchi Chronicles production?
I love working with professionals. I learn so much from chefs, and people who work in fields like TV, advertising, and editorial. Most of what we do is a group effort, and we depend on other people for a product to look great. When everything goes well, it is such an amazing feeling to create something worthwhile and beautiful that will have an impact on other people. Kimchi Chronicles was such a case, with a bunch of wonderful people coming together to create an amazing product. Interaction on set was wonderful. I have a lot of great memories from just being there and taking photos.

How did you first decide to pursue photography?
First, I wanted to be a painter , but then in the 7th grade my father purchased a camera and I was hooked.I was born in Poland in a small town and there were a lot of interesting subjects to photograph, and I fell in love with photography. I could understand the world better, and I felt like I was giving back in a big way. Four years later, I had a prominent solo show in a real gallery. After finishing university, I opened my own studio, and took it from there. My job’s taken me to amazing places, and through it, I’ve met some great people. Working in New York, with all of talent here, is just a total thrill.

What are you currently working on, and what are some of your upcoming projects?
Currently, I am talking with publishers about a few new book projects. I also do editorial work all the time, and I am working on a big national advertising campaign that I will shoot in December 2011. You can check out more of my work on my website.

What kinds of advice do you  have for future budding photographers?
Persistence, hard work, and talent are important. It is difficult to be an artist and make a living, so loving what you do is really important. As you work in a commercial market, having a healthy curiosity about your surroundings, and finding a way to protect what you do best and develop it to the highest level are key.

Andong: Salted Mackerel

Andong, the spiritual capital of Korea, is famous for many of its local specialties, from soju, jjimdak (braised chicken dish with vegetables and noodles), sikhye (rice dessert drink), and salted mackerel. Salted mackerel, called gangodeungeo, has enjoyed enduring popularity throughout the years, and is enjoyed as a snack, side-dish, and for mackerel enthusiasts, even a full meal.

Historically, since Andong was located far from the sea, salting fish was necessary to preserve fish for as long as possible. Now, though fish is readily available, salting fish remains one of the most popular methods. Andong mackerel is served in a variety of different ways, from pan-fried, steamed, and roasted. People love it for its flavorful and unique taste. However, it’s not for those of the faint of palates.  Heavy on the salt, it’s best eaten with copious amounts of rice.

Head over to our Visit Korea section to read more about Andong >>

Kimchi Chronicles Contest Update

We’ve pushed back the deadline for the Kimchi Chronicles Contest to December 31, which means you have much more time to prepare your awesome videos. We think there are many budding chefs out there yet undiscovered, and this is your chance to showcase your talent! In case you’ve forgotten, there are some pretty stellar prizes at stake, from a year’s supply of kimchi, to Cuisinart appliances, and VIP subscriptions to Dramafever (hello kdramas!)

We’ve gotten a few questions about the contest, so here’s a handy list of answers.

Q: Does the video have to be of professional quality?

A: Absolutely not! We’re looking for energy and enthusiasm, above all.

Q: Do I have to make one of Marja’s recipes from the Kimchi Chronicles Cookbook?

A: No, but feel free to either replicate or alter one of her recipes, some of which you can find on the website.

Q: How many videos can I submit?

A: The more, the merrier. Submit away!

Q: How long should the video be?

A: Preferably no longer than 5 minutes. If it’s absolutely essential, we won’t penalize.

Q: What should the format of my video be? How do I post a video response on Youtube?

A: Anything you like! You can check out Marja’s cooking demos on the show for inspiration. Here’s a crash course in all things video response. It’s a cinch, really.

Q: Why does the Youtube contest announcement video say that the contest deadline is December 9?

A: The contest video does say that the deadline has already passed, but we’ve officially extended it. Sorry for any confusion!


Questions? Comments? Let us know by posting on the Kimchi Chronicles Facebook page.

5 Questions or Less: Diana Kang

Viewers of the show will recognize Diana Kang, resident food guru and Marja’s dinner date at some of Korea’s tastiest restaurants. Aside from her pivotal role on Kimchi Chronicles, she runs a food marketing company called Wonderbox, where she works with major individuals and corporations in the food world. In short, she knows Korean food in and out, and it was our pleasure to have her on the show!

As Marja’s most frequent dining companion in Korea, you were able to eat  at restaurants all around Korea. What and where was your favorite meal?

Although we had tasted many different varieties of food, I still remember the cold buckwheat noodles we had near Sokcho, the eastern seashore of Korea.  It was run by a grandmother together with her sons and grandsons.  It was one of the most memorable meals I have had in recent years.  The noodles were made with freshly ground buckwheat and seasoned with sweet and spicy sauce.  It was a simple noodle dish but filled with flavor.

Eating aside, what are your skills like in the kitchen? What’s the food that you cook the best?

I enjoy cooking. Nothing too fancy, and mostly everyday, simple food.  I don’t like to spend long hours in the kitchen. Over the years, I have  developed my own menu that tastes good but does not require long prep time.  This means that I tend to cook seasonal vegetables, and fish and tofu.  My family thinks that I make the best galbijjim, braised short ribs, and cold shrimp with cucumber, Korean pear and hot mustard sauce.

On the Kimchi Chronicles set, you were given the nickname “Korean Food Guru”, for your extensive knowledge about food. What’s your background  in food? When did you first decide to start a career pursuing it?

I have always been interested in food, because it was one of my family’s favorite dinner table topics.  We would sit and discuss what to eat next even as we were eating a meal.  But I started to really learn more about Korean food when I started a monthly column in a Korean magazine about family recipes.  Through this experience, I had the opportunity to learn more about simple family style cooking and the importance of seasonal ingredients.  One thing led to another and I got more involved in food related projects, such as the Kimchi Chronicles.

What are some of your favorite memories from production?

My best memories, unsurprisingly, are all related to the food we shared with the production crew.  It was wonderful to work with such a highly  professional team and it was a great pleasure for me to introduce to them the diverse variety of Korean food.  In particular, I truly enjoyed our lunchtime visit to the elementary school.

What kind of work are you up to these days, and what’s on your schedule for the future?

My company Wonderbox provides highly specialized marketing programs through food and culture.  We are currently working with several world  famous celebrity chefs and we also organize unique culinary events for our
client companies and their VIP customers.  Next March, we will be organizing special Gala dinners in Korea with Chef Thomas Keller.  In addition, we are in the process of developing a series on basic Korean food ingredients, such as salt, red pepper, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

Street Food: Skewered Snacks

There’s a few rules when it comes to excellent street food. First but not least, it must be delicious. Secondly, it must not break the bank. Thirdly, convenience is of the essence. Thus, in our opinion, the ultimate street food is skewered. It requires the last amount of effort, and maximizes cleanliness and efficiency.

Some vendors we came across while in Korea proved that virtually any food can be put on a stick. Skewered snacks are generally fried or grilled concoctions that run the gamut from sausages, meatballs, and even rice cakes. We’ve seen a truly breathtaking array of skewered snacks to pique any hungry traveler’s fancy. Why bother with cutlery and tableware when you don’t have to? Skewered food is easier, infinitely more fun, and just as tasty.

During production, these were the food of choice. With these easy portable treats, we could hold our lunch in one hand, and then press record with the other! What kinds of skewered foods are your favorite?

Food: Crew Dinner At Saemaeul Shikdang

To say that there were a lot of delicious meals while filming Kimchi Chronicles in Korea is a serious understatement. From Jeonju bibimbap to freshly caught seafood in Busan, it’s hard to pick a few favorites. However, one of our first dinners in Korea ranks high on the list. Our inaugural crew dinner was held at Saemaeul Shikdang , a super popular little restaurant in Seoul that is legendary for its 7 minute kimchi jjigae.

Kimchi jjigae is one of Korea’s most famous comfort foods. It’s a simple stew made with kimchi, and generous amounts of pork. At Saemaeul Shikdang, the jjigae is cooked at a rolling boil and served in record time, without sacrificing quality. It’s full of flavor, incredibly satisfying, and despite its simplicity, it remains one of our most memorable meals.

Marja’s famous for her jjigaes, and she even jazzes them up with additional garnishes, including American cheese, and even tuna. It’s a cinch to make, and is also a great way to use overly fermented kimchi that’s been sitting in the fridge for a few too many weeks. What kinds of jjigaes are your favorite to make?

5 Questions or Less: Hyunjun Kwon

In addition to being an associate producer for Kimchi Chronicles, Hyunjun Kwon holds the titles of world traveler, home cook, and major foodie. Prior to working on the show, he produced TV commercials and documentaries. Then he traveled all around the world experiencing new cultures through their cuisine. He’s currently writing a book about his adventures, which we’re beyond excited about. We were lucky to have him as a part of the Kimchi Chronicles team!

You were the associate producer for the show. What other kinds of programs have you worked on?
At first, I worked on TV commercials for 4 years, but then I left to travel. For over 5 years, I traveled all around the world, and I went to 51 countries. Upon returning to Korea, I worked for a travel show on EBS called World Theme Travel (세계테마기행), a program about Argentina, Costa Rica, Uganda and India.

Being a native Korean, what was it like filming a Korean food show with an American team?
It was GREAT!!! All of the cast and crew member were very nice. There are a lot of differences between American and Korean styles of production and work. I thought it was really important to understand each other, so I made an effort to help the American team really understand Korean society and culture. I felt like they were guests in my hometown, so I tried to act as a host and make them as comfortable as possible. In addition, I learned so many things from them, and I’m so proud and glad I was a part of the Kimchi Chronicles team!

It’s well known that you’re a great home cook. What kinds of things did you see while filming that inspired your own cooking?
Cooking is one of my passions, and I’m always trying to learn more about foreign recipes, spices, and ingredients. Before working on Kimchi Chronicles, I was really confident in my Korean cooking skills, but I actually learned a lot of new things about Korean food, and got to understand its philosophy more deeply. Now I’m trying to cook Korean food more authentically, with an emphasis on health.

What are some of your favorite memories from production?
My favorite memories are spending time with the crew. I really enjoyed working with them, and it felt like they were my close friends, even my family. During filming, we were all very tired at times, and we provided great support for each other, and I consider them really good friends. I have a lot of  great memories of them, which I’m thankful for.

You’re currently writing a book about your world travels. What are some of your favorite cuisines and dishes from countries you’ve visited?
Of course, my favorite cuisine is Korean! However, I do love to eat new foods and learn about other cuisines. I love Thai food, especially its fresh seafood, curries, and street food. I enjoyed amazing barbecue in Brazil and Argentina, really healthy meals in Turkey, and rich coconut flavors and fresh seafood in the Caribbean. Every country I went to had such amazing food, so it’s impossible to choose just a few. My philosophy is that if a native eats it, I can definitely try it!

See Hyunjun in his cameo in Episode 7, The Fish Chronicles.

Kimchi Chronicles Contest: Post a Video Response

The deadline to the contest is drawing closer, and we’d still like to see more applicants! It’s no secret that there are some crazy awesome prizes at stake, like such as a year’s supply of kimchi, and so much more. We’d love to see your videos, and in case you don’t have a copy of the cookbook, there’s plenty of recipes on our website to draw inspiration from. We’re looking for contestants to make one of Marja’s recipes, or a dish inspired by one of hers, so get creative!

In terms of posting a video response to enter our contest, it’s very simple. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide:

1. Subscribe to the Kimchi Chronicles Youtube page.

2. Under comments, click the white box that reads ‘Respond to the video.’

3. Upon clicking that, on the right hand side, there’s a linked option that says ‘Create a video response.’

4. You will then be directed to another page, where you have several options. You can record a new video, or upload any of the videos from your personal channel, or computer hard drive.

5 Questions or Less: Julia Turshen

Julia Turshen wears many hats: she’s a private chef, writer, producer, cookbook author and all around full-time foodie. As an associate producer and cookbook author for another PBS series, Spain… On the Road Again, she brought her considerable talent and expertise to the Kimchi Chronicles team. After traveling extensively in Korea while on location, she co-authored the Kimchi Chronicles cookbook, which she calls a major crash course in all things Korean cuisine. Her work has been featured in Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter GOOP, Interview Magazine, and Food & Wine, just to name a few.

You were an associate producer for Kimchi Chronicles, and also served as co-author of the cookbook! What was it like writing a Korean cookbook?

Co-authoring the cookbook with Marja was a complete crash-course in Korean food.  I came into the project knowing as much about Korean food as most New Yorkers who go out to eat a lot.  Which is to say, I knew how to wrap Korean BBQ in a lettuce leaf and that Korean fried chicken was something I could potentially develop a real addiction to, but I didn’t know much about where the ingredients and traditions came from.  Working on the cookbook was a superb education.

You were on location in Korea during production: What was this this experience like?

Traveling in Korean with the crew during production was the greatest mix of work and play.  We pulled long hours gathering content and then topped it off with lots of norebang and drinking and snacking (all of which enable each other). More than half of the crew in Korea had carried over from Spain… On the Road Again and everyone we hadn’t worked with before quickly became part of our eclectic, hard-working family.

Kimchi Chronicles is about making Korean food accessible for everybody. What  sort of advice would you give people new to Korean cooking?

It was really helpful for me to discover that Korean cooking is very unpretentious and quite forgiving. It’s not a highly technical or super precise cuisine. It’s much more about abundance, about being unafraid of big flavors and bold seasonings. So my advice would be to not try too hard, to embrace red chili and garlic, to dive in.

How did you decide to pursue a career in food? What do you currently working on, and what are some exciting upcoming projects?

I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a choice but to work in food—I’ve cooked since before I can remember and food has been the driving force behind just about every decision I’ve made.  Currently, I’m doing a lot of private chef work and I am also in the early stages of a new cookbook that has a healthy bent to it.

As a fan of Korean food, what’s your go-to Korean dish that you make often? What would you make for Marja?

I’ve definitely started incorporating lots of Korean ingredients and dishes into my cooking and friends keep asking for more bibimbap and also for scallion pancakes.  People love scallion pancakes! For Marja, I’d probably make some sort-of fried chicken sandwich, maybe a little kimchi mayo to garnish.


Kimchi Chronicles is on Itunes!

Tired of waiting for your local station to air the show? Loyal Itunes fan at heart? The day has finally come, and we’re excited to announce that Kimchi Chronicles has finally arrived on Itunes!

All 13 episodes are available, and better yet, the first episode, The Kimchi Chronicles Begin, is free. Now you can watch the show to your heart’s content.

And of course, it can still be found on most local TV stations, and on DVD.