A native of Northern France, Chef Frederic Nef already had postings in 6 countries and 3 continents under his belt before arriving in Korea just three months ago. His positions in London, Paris, St. Petersburg (Russia), Morocco, Istanbul (Turkey), the first ski resort ever in Lebanon and 6 years in Beirut, left him with an abundance of international experience (as well as his lovely Lebanese wife of 8 years).
I love my hometown, but being positioned abroad is much more exciting for me. I had been looking to come to Asia for a long time, and I was offered positions in other locations, but was anxious to take a position in Korea despite – or perhaps because of – warnings that it would be more difficult than a position in other Northeast Asian countries. Being in Korea is such a great opportunity to work with new local ingredients and be creative with new dishes.
When pressed on the difficulties, he points to the challenges in getting imported foods. If you want top-quality kimchi in Paris, you have to purchase kimchi imported from Korea. In the same way, if you want top quality cheese, sausages and other ingredients, you have to import many of them directly from Europe or you have to make them on your own.
It is exactly these challenges that make Frederic so enthusiastic about his posting at the JW Marriott Seoul. Chef Nef points to the necessity of having to make many things in-house as one of the many things he loves about his job here. Here we make almost everything in-house our own sausages, pate, ham and breasola (an air-dried beef 10 learned). We smoke all our meats here as well not just smoked salmon, but also chicken, duck and ribs. In Europe we would just buy things premade down to the pre-sliced vegetables and fruit. Creating it ourselves leaves the tastes fresher and is much more fun for us!
Chef’s secret to inventing a new dish? When are looking to make a great new taste, look to the recipes of your grandparents. Traditional cuisine from all cultures is the fountain of inspiration for truly great tastes, and each can be made original with just a little innovation.