Sam Jung has come a long way since making Rice Krispies treats as a kid. The San Diego native has an impressive culinary résumé, which includes training at L'Oasis and Château Cordeillan-Bages (both restaurants in France with two Michelin stars apiece) and working with Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas. Just last month, on the eve of his one-year anniversary in Seattle, Jung stepped into the role of chef de cuisine when his predecessor, Taylor Thornhill, departed for Paris.
Since assuming his new role at chef William Belickis's South Lake Union restaurant, Jung has become MistralKitchen's menu master. He oversees every detail destined for patrons' plates, making sure all ingredients are seasonally unique. Jung is happy to help his kitchen staff build good foundational cooking skills—or he will be until they make him listen to Insane Clown Posse.
Here, a few of Sam Jung’s favorite things:
Dish to make at home: I try to make Korean food as good as my mom’s. The last thing I made was fish stew with monk fish, daikon, soy, ginger and chilies. It was good but not even close to hers.
Dish to impress guests: Probably something involving flames
First dish ever made: Rice Krispie treats
First kitchen job: Prep cook at the Miyako Hotel in San Francisco
Favorite dish at MistralKitchen: Chicken—I’ve never had better chicken
Happy hour food is . . . : A good way to sample a restaurant
Secret ingredient: Love (aka salt)
Banned from MistralKitchen: Nothing that I know of—we have a pretty good, accepting work culture at the restaurant. If I suggested we play Insane Clown Posse during service, that would probably get the thumbs down. I don’t listen to Insane Clown Posse by the way.
Guilty pleasure: Greasy Mexican food
Hangover remedy: Sleep
Recently splurged on: A great meal at Blind Pig Bistro
On the wish list: My own restaurant
Can't live without: Kimchi
Completely overrated dining trend: Molecular gastronomy
Work outfit: Black pants and white chef’s jacket
Breakfast dish: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch spot: Szechuan Noodle Bowl
Cookbook: The French Laundry Cookbook
People I’d like to cook with: Thomas Keller, Michel Bras and Julia Child
Music in the kitchen: No music for me
Craziest MistralKitchen story that can be committed to print: It’s not so crazy, but one time for family meal we had deep-fried foie gras banh mi.