Seoul Cooking Competition and Lantern Festival
My friend Alia has a cooking show on YouTube (Cooking with Alia). She entered a cooking competition called Seoul, My New Recipe, which is a Korean/global fusion cooking competition, held at City Hall. Out of over one hundred teams from all over the world, five were chosen as finalists, and flown to Seoul for a cook-off. Unfortunately, Alia lives in Seoul now, so she didn’t win a trip here, but she still had the honor of being a finalist.
Last Friday morning, I went to City Hall to support Alia (and also sample some of the food!). Each team had 40 minutes to prepare their fusion dish of choice (Alia and her teammate made bibimbap 비빔밥 – a traditional Korean dish of vegetables, egg and sometimes meat, mixed together with rice – with a Moroccan twist) as well as pajeon 파전, Korean scallion pancake. While they were cooking, reporters went around to interview them. As the 40 minutes were counting down, and as the delicious smells were filling the air, I began to get nervous… With only 10 minutes to spare, Alia finished her bibimbap and started to make the pajeon… and finished in the nick of time! She made the pajeon into little flowers, where the pajeon batter was held together by a cross section of bell pepper. It looked (and tasted) really nice! Other teams made Cajun chicken, chicken stew, and Vietnamese spring rolls. After the judges had their share and were deliberating, audience members had a chance to taste the food. The food was all very delicious, but I thought Alia was the most creative in her pajeon. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t agree with me… and awarded the top place to a Malaysian couple. Alia still got a lot of valuable experience and publicity (I think most of the reporters were hovering around her booth while she was cooking) from the competition, and I of course, ate a lot of good food. 🙂
Later that evening, when Alex returned from his training, the two of us went to the 5th annual Seoul Lantern Festival. Local and international artists design and decorate lanterns of all shapes and sizes, and the lanterns are placed in the Cheonggyecheon river stream. It was a very chilly evening, but many people still braved the cold to walk along the 0.9 km section of the river where the lanterns were lit. The lanterns were all very colorful, and some of the larger displays even had moving parts. It was a very romantic evening for the two of us (along with the thousands of other spectators), especially because Alex bought me some red bean pastries for dessert afterwards!!