Foreigners Battle For the Title of Best Korean Cook


People sometimes forget that there are other aspects to hallyu besides K-pop and dramas. Those are important, yes, but one can argue that hallyu wouldn’t be possible if Koreans didn’t have such mouthwatering cuisine. There’s a reason why you’re always hungry while watching K-dramas.

It’s not just Koreans who cook Korean food anymore: MBC recently held the final round of the 2014 Global Taste of Korea Contest, featuring five foreign competitors competing for the title of Best Korean Cook in Seoul, according to the Korea Joongang Daily.


For their final challenge, the cooks were tasked with creating a Korean beef dish within two hours, but they weren’t scored just on the food. Each of them were given a score out of 100 points based on taste, their understanding of Korean cuisine, technicality and hygiene.

The five were selected from 15 semi-finalists, who all won the preliminaries in their respective home countries and were then flown out to Korea. The list of participating countries is incredibly diverse and includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Slovakia, Italy, China, Japan, Mexico, Chile, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia.

While the show and results won’t broadcast until later this month on MBC, it’s fascinating to see the one common theme among the contestants: Each person added their own spin to their dishes, which were shaped by their country of origin. Sometimes, traditional ingredients that are generally used in Korean food aren’t always readily available in other countries, so a substitute may be in order. A cook from Turkey, for example, said he often substituted chicken for pork, since the latter is hard to come by in a predominantly Muslim country.


The contest, which is sponsored by the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the North Jeolla provincial government and MBC, was organized to promote Korean cuisine worldwide. Each of the 15 semi-finalists will serve as Korean food ambassadors for a year in their respective countries.

The winner of the competition will be awarded $10,000 while the runner-up will receive $3,000.

You can watch an episode from last year’s contest below:

Images via Taste of Korea