Judy Joo Cooking Demonstration at the International Culinary Center

By Joy Chiang Ling and Kevin Young

Korean-American television chef, Judy Joo, held a cooking demonstration at the International Culinary Center on Friday, June 20th 2014. During the demonstration, she showed audiences how to make Bossam, a traditional Korean dish. She also shared her experiences in the food television industry recounting her time as an Iron Chef on the UK version. Now, Judy hosts her own show called Korean Food Made Simple, and has honed her culinary skills in various Michelin-star restaurants.

After graduating from Columbia University with an engineering degree, Judy landed a financial job with Morgan Stanley. After five years, Judy became dissatisfied with her mundane banking career. Joo recalled, “I was dreading and hating going to work. I really wanted to cook. While I was a student I ate out a lot and wanted to read cooking books.”

Soon after Judy found her passion in cooking, Judy pursued a degree and graduated from The French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) in 2004. This is one of the reasons she came back “home” to ICC to demonstrate her refined TV-quality skills to other star chefs of the future!

By a stroke of luck she was given the opportunity to work under one of the most infamous chefs in the world, Gordon Ramsay. “He came over to talk to my table and I told him I was a chef. He replied, ‘Good, when are you going to start working for me?’” The next day after the encounter she had a grueling 18-hour test trial. She passed and from then on her culinary career kick started.

Joo survived Ramsay’s challenge. She endured what she calls “chef hazing,” a process in which new chefs spend hours on end doing tedious tasks from slicing pineapples to peeling potatoes. “I never experienced so much passion and abuse in one kitchen.” She had even seen a frying pan flung at someone. Not many people could mentally persevere in the kitchen she was working in. It was common for people to come and go. However, Judy stuck with it. “The hard part is not getting the job – it’s staying there.”

Judy was once again blessed when she met a producer who dined at Ramsay’s restaurant. He wanted to have her on television because of her strong verbal communication and culinary skills. She landed her first appearance as a contestant on the UK version of the Iron Chef franchise. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life” because she “literally had no time to even eat” until the battle was finished.

Judy then accepted an offer to become an Iron Chef, but the show was canceled after two seasons. “It was very staged. I wasn’t allowed to smile in any pictures for the show. And the producers kept screaming, Let’s see bitch Judy! Come on bring out bitch Judy from Morgan Stanley!” Soon after, she was given the opportunity to be a judge on America’s own Iron Chef.

“I believe I was a good judge because of my refined palette. I know Asian cuisine by heart, was trained to cook French food, and grew up as an American. Any ingredients they threw at me I either worked with before or had knowledge of.” Later on, Judy had to face yet another show cancellation, but her television career wasn’t over.

She was offered to have her own show, which featured her cooking traditional Korean food inspired by her mother’s cooking. Korean Food Made Simple is now going into its second season and has even featured a guest appearance by the K-pop group, U-Kiss.

Judy enjoys teaching people how to cook Korean food because it exposes people to Korean culture. “I work for myself freelancing. I enjoy it a lot more and I’m even working on my own book and opening up a restaurant in London.” Judy cites that being able to communicate well has helped her ongoing career. “You have to be able to explain to people concisely what you are doing when cooking and be able to talk intelligently about food because the questions people ask are really in-depth. You have to know the ingredients inside and out.” For example, she was once asked what minerals and vitamins were contained in certain dishes and was also told to assess the nutritional value of Kimchi.

Her show currently runs on the Cooking Channel at 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. She believes that her experiences as a financial worker and a food critic have helped prepare her for starting her own business. Despite always working, Judy stresses the importance of balance. She believes that people should enjoy everything in moderation in order to achieve success.

After sharing her background, extensive career history and personal aspirations, Judy Joo revealed a slab of meat and placed it on a cutting board in front of her. In approximately 8 minutes Judy demonstrated how easy it is to cook Bossam. Bossam is a traditional dish usually cooked after making Kimchi. According to Joo herself, “It is one of the simplest dishes you could make. It’s pretty much just mixing everything together.” She stressed the importance of getting the best quality meat to maximize the taste. After it was finished, Judy let everyone try the Bossam, which was wrapped in lettuce and rice. It was well received by the audience for its freshness, gelatinous texture and unique taste. Audience members joked, “Can we have more?”

Avatar photo

About AsianInNY

AsianInNY.com is New York’s leader in Asian networking and a multi-cultural entertainment site. AsianInNY has established itself as the premier social and cultural authority for Asians in New York City. AsianInNY maintains the highest standards in providing reliable online content and producing live offline events. AsianInNY seeks to inspire, educate, and connect our community, using a versatile platform that engages our audience via a multi-layered digital presence that showcases the best of New York City. Our pages are updated daily with a rich cultural mix of news, events, interviews, and more. AsianInNY: Connect with Everything Asian!