April 2023

Meet the OFS Young Chefs of 2023 and their mentor, artist and restaurateur Jinok Kim-Eicken

Nourish the Body, Feed the Soul”

Our Sunday Lunch, last meal of the Symposium Weekend, will be a collaboration between this year’s four OFS Young Chefs taking inspiration from their Muse – Korean-born chef and ceramic artist, Jinok Kim-Eicken.   

The OFS Young Chefs – Andiswa Mqedlana from South Africa,  Shannon Compton from the United States, Jonas Palekas originally from Lithuania, now residing in the Netherlands, and South Korean-born New Yorker Minwoo ‘MJ’ Jung – are allready hard at work devising what will no doubts be a deliciously memorable meal, with the background stories shared afterwards in a panel session during the online Conference.

Their Muse, Jinok, an opera singer in an earlier life, is chef-proprietor of the much-admired Korean restaurant, NaNum, in Berlin, where her exquisite food is served on plates she herself creates. Since her kitchen follows the rules of zero-waste, and her cooking, naturally, is deeply-rooted in the traditions of the land of her birth, the dishes she inspires are likely (though not inevitably) to follow those rules. We’ll see what our Young Chefs decide on…

Her philosophy as both artist and cook is to look for harmony in all things: “Harmony is the measure in the kitchen, explains Jinok…

“When different elements of a dish are in unison, harmony is created. It is about the process, the joy of not always knowing what is going to happen next.”

“Food connects. It means sharing and it creates community. The love of food is omnipresent in Korea. When I was a child, it was normal to cook three times a day. When you meet someone in Korea, you don’t say how are you, you ask: have you eaten yet?

“As a singer I learned to work with my body, in the garden I found a deep connection with the earth. With ceramics I combine both, and in my dishes everything comes together.

NaNum means sharing, sharing time and thoughts, a place where people come together, a bridge between cultures.”

Our OFS Young Chefs in their own Words:

Andiswa Mqedlana works as a private chef in Johannesburg, South Africa. As a trained professional, she has been involved in the food industry for five years and is deeply passionate about the need for education in food. She strongly believes that food is the source that connects human beings from all continents. Her goal is to take a deep dive into what historical African food looked like and to see how food changes DNA, or genetic details in the African Spectrum. Researching this particular topic, she says, would assist in preserving history, help understand what food meant to those who came before us, and hopefully shape a better future for those who will come after us. 

Jonas Palekas is a chef and food artist specializing in performative dinners, experimental food design methodologies, advocacy of ecological relations, and microbiological activism. Currently resident at Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands, he is also co-founder of the restaurant Delta Mityba (opened in 2016), which plays a major role in the Vilnius cultural community. Besides activities in Lithuania, he participates in artistic projects and events across Europe, including Biennale di Venezia 2017 and 2018, Volcano Extravaganza 2019, Kunstverein Amsterdam 2019, and others. With interests in social, cultural, and ecological environments and with his education in culinary arts, Jonas works across the boundaries of human nutritional habits and raises questions about eating in our uncertain times. 

Minwoo ‘MJ’ Jung, currently a New York City resident, was born and raised in Busan, South Korea and grew up with a deep cultural acknowledgment of food rules and rituals thanks to his family’s Buddhist roots. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked in New York kitchens such as Le Bernardin and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. After two years as the Executive Chef at the Korean Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, he earned a Master’s Degree in Management in Hospitality at Cornell University. 

Shannon Compton is a holistic-minded cook, baker, and gardener growing and cooking her way through life.  Her interest in food and cooking came from discovering the power of food as medicine.   Food and herbs healed her from severe illness when conventional medicine couldn’t.  Since then she has devoted herself to studying sustainable food, gastronomy, and agriculture by working in kitchens and on farms all over the world, from Italy to Turkey and beyond. Shannon received her BS in Neuropsychology from Yale University followed by a Master’s degree in Applied Gastronomy and Sustainable Culinary Arts from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy in 2019.  After opening a whole foods bakery specializing in plant-based and gluten-free treats for all, shetransitioned to her current role in operations and management for two US-based fast casual restaurant concepts, Salad House and Playa Bowls.