Korea is a beautiful country rich with its unique culture and history, despite being a neighboring country to China, Russia, Japan and Taiwan. As South Korea reveals herself through the entertainment world, the culture continues to fascinate me.
“Le Grand Chef (2007)” is a Korean food-themed movie where they explore the culinary tradition of the culture and history of the country in today’s modern era.
Image taken from http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/le-grand-chef/
Le Grand Chef (Hangul: 식객; Hanja: 食客; RR: Sikgaek) is a 2007 South Korean film starring Kim Kang-woo and Lee Ha-na. Produced by ShowEast and distributed by CJ Entertainment, it was released on November 1, 2007 and ran for 114 minutes. Based on the popular manhwa Sikgaek by Huh Young-man, the film tells the story of two chefs competing for the title of heir to the last Royal Chef of the Joseon Dynasty.
A young, incredibly talented chef quits the profession after a contest to head a world-class restaurant ends in tragedy. Retiring to a small rural town with his grandfather, he finds a new and more peaceful existence, working as a farmer and selling vegetables at the local market. Even though content in his new life, when a nationwide cooking competition offers him the chance to take on his long-time rival, Seong-Chan embarks on a journey that will forever change his view of the world and lead him to the most startling revelations. Surrounding himself with a ragtag crew of misfits, each with his own poignant story to tell, he is soon in the media spotlight, facing stiff competition from the other contestants while dealing with his grandfather’s diminishing faculties and a long buried family secret. Seong-Chan can only struggle to overcome every adversity with a quiet dignity.
Below is just a brief summary of the trailer since there is no subtitle.
At a press conference, a cooking knife of a special spirit is being presented to the public. The knife belongs to the last Korean royal chef of the Chosun Dynasty who cut his arms with this knife to show his loyalty to the king and the country. The Japanese bureaucrat at the time was deeply moved by his conviction and returned to Japan with this knife. Now, his son has come to Korea to return the precious knife back to someone who really deserves to own it and announces a cooking contest to find the best cook for this knife. Thus the destined match between the grandsons of the two apprentices of the royal chef has begun.
It is a movie that showcases the rich historical and cultural heritage of Korea and a little window to the livelihood of the current generation of South Koreans, represented by the characters Seong-chan (main character), Jin-su (the lady journalist), Bong-ju (the villain) and Ho-seong (Seong-chan’s sous chef).
Through the course of this movie, we observe how the Koreans care for their food chain in order to acquire the best quality of food. Traditional methods passed down from generations are greatly valued and are still embraced in the society.
The competition itself shows the expectation of being the BEST Korean culinary chef as they are assessed in the areas of food presentation, preparation techniques and much emphasis is placed on quality of ingredients as it greatly affects the overall flavor of a dish.
It is a well told story as it reveals how each character is introduced and evolved, how and why the competition came about, a display of Korean cuisine, and flashes of past and present being told in an orderly manner, while viewers are educated on the historical aspect.
Overall, it is a beautiful artistry that embodies the essence of Korea’s historical and cultural heritage.
Have you seen this movie? If you have, do share your thoughts with us.
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