By Conor Alexander ('18)On Thursday, February 16 Greenwood’s new Food & Culture class had the honour of meeting esteemed author and restaurateur Chef Sang Kim.
Chef Kim is behind three acclaimed Toronto restaurants: Windup Bird Café, Yakitori Bar, and Seoul Food Co., and has opened a handful of others in the past. He knows a thing or two about the art of cooking.
However, sushi making wasn’t the only thing that Chef Kim came to speak to the class about; the group also discussed food scarcity and food deserts within the City of Toronto. Having grown up in the city’s Jane & Finch neighbourhood, an area where 20 per cent of residents don’t know where or when they’re going to get their next meal, Kim turned to stealing from the local discount supermarket in order to put food on the table for his two younger siblings. Yet it wasn’t collard greens and lacinato kale he was taking: it was canned beefaroni and prepackaged meals, a habit that eventually made his brother and sister sick.
Chef Kim led the class in three sushi-making demonstrations, ranging from simple to complex. While conducting the class in nori- (Japanese seaweed) folding exercises, he discussed the importance of buying organic and local foods, which is paramount in Japanese cuisine. When it came time to add a “made-by-a-four-year-old-sized-snowball” to the nori sheet, Chef Kim discussed the deceptive simplicity of sushi. While some may think it is the fish or the vegetables that make the sushi, it is actually the rice. Every sushi bar within a four kilometre radius gets fish and produce from the same distributor. Kim let the class in on a secret: it is how a chef seasons their rice that makes their sushi unique.
After growing up and attending postsecondary, Kim has gone on to lead a small restaurant empire. He also regularly speaks to teenagers about food scarcity and has even given a TED Talk on the subject of poverty and hunger. When discussing why he has done what he has done in terms of educating young people, he reveals “I live by my failure, that is my ‘why’."