AMONG MANY star-chefs, Hong Shinae, a renowned food stylist and cuisine researcher, has definitely succeeded in attracting attention to her active career. After a personal interview with Hong, the Yonsei Annals discovered an individual that stands out not only as a food stylist, but also as a passionate woman who lives her life to the fullest.
What does a food stylist do?
A food stylist creates the first impression of a dish. More specifically, I try to visualize an image that fits a certain type of food then decorate it in a way that stimulates a person’s taste bud. So, in order to become a food stylist, a lot of experience is required. To visualize a certain image into different forms, a variety of options should come in mind instantly. My creativity comes from experience. The reason I am able to work in a variety of different areas such as broadcasting, education and the food service industry, I believe, is that I am a food stylist. Yet, these activities also grant me the opportunity to gain deeper knowledge and become a better food stylist in return.
Moreover, the fact that my career requires a lot of preparation and has a relatively high work load can serve both as pros and cons of the profession. As preparing a dish requires much time and effort, the amount of work demanded might, at times, be intimidating. However, I get to learn something new through each project, which is a huge source of satisfaction for me. After all, I like working hard. In these aspects, I believe, this profession suits me well.
Recently, “Ssal-ga-gae(rice store) by Hong Shinae” has been a hot issue in the market. Could you tell us more about it?
“Ssal-ga-gae by Hong Shinae” is a home meal restaurant that only provides meals for 100 people per day. Ssal-ga-gae provides Oh-boon-do-mi, or soft brown rice, which we polish by pounding it each morning, and then we serve it with handmade side dishes. Rice starts to acidify, which means that it starts turning sour, after being polished by pounding and thus, its taste and nutrients become extinct after 15 days. To provide our customers the highest levels of taste and nutrients, we polish the rice by pounding each morning.
As the owner-chef of Ssal-ga-gae, I always try to actualize and visualize what I believe about healthy food, while cooking it. Ssal-ga-gae is a representative example of my belief that we must eat healthy and live by bab-sim. Rice is an essential part of Korean culture, I agree with the idea in that we can work from the power gained by eating bab, or rice.
How do you balance your time between family and career?
I am a hard-working and diligent person. I never liked being bored, so I always looked for something to work on. I also tend to think in an optimistic ways and try to find the fun side in whatever I do. This is probably why I never really thought of managing my time. Instead, I do the works that are right in front of me without hesitation. I try to be autonomous in what I do and move as planned, after considering my steps thoroughly, so that I do not regret them afterwards. Thus, with my working style, time is usually already calculated before getting the work done.
As for my family, I usually set aside time for them separately. Most of the time, I feel like I am only able to carry on with my career because of my supportive family. They understand my work ethic and passion for work. Sometimes, I cook with my kids so that they can observe what I do for work. I believe that this experience means a lot for both me and my kids because it allows my children to understand my profession, and also understand me better, as an individual. Fortunately, my kids are proud of me, and this gives me another motivation to do my best in my career.
Could you suggest some easy, nutritious recipes for college students?
There is a plethora of convenient food products in the market today. Rather than pursuing convenience, however, it would be much healthier to choose natural foods that are not artificially made. Even when buying ice-cream, take a look and see whether the milk used is natural, or if it contains any artificial additives. These little efforts will help you maintain a healthy body and help adjust your body easily absorb natural food. An excessive intake of artificial ingredients will most likely overload your body and be harmful to your future health. Enjoy the privilege that only people can have, as we are the only species that can cook the ingredients and turn them into something different. Cook with your own creative recipe!
Any last words for Yonseians as a successful professional?
When you graduate and go out to society, it is critical to blend in as a member of a group while taking a leading position, at the same time. People won’t accept you if you only choose to stand out. Yet they will not recognize you if you only blend in, either. You should know how to properly do both in society.
Also, always have the initiative and courage to do what you believe is right. Plan and do the work that you have passion for and love. As Yonsei University students, you already have all the tools to succeed and you deserve it. If you work passionately, your life will become fulfilled and in the long run, a fulfilled career will enrich your life.