Chefs Heat Up Entertainment Industry

Recently, chefs have been devouring the Korean television airwaves with their frequent appearances on both cooking and reality shows. From programs with straightforward titles such as “Three Simple Meals a Day” to more nifty concoctions, including “My Little Television” and “Teacher Baek’s House Rice,” the television entertainment industry has been cooking up quite a number of interesting food-related programs that are thriving with growing audiences.

The purpose of these programs is quite simple: to cook all types of simple cuisines and demonstrate the cooking process to the audience as vividly and scrumptiously as possible. While the central concepts may be similar, the shows are as diverse as the various dishes the chefs cook. Some shows have chefs from different culinary fields, who compete with each other to showcase their cooking skills with mouth-watering “do-it-yourself-in-five-minutes” segments.

“Take Care of the Fridge” is a show in which professional chefs compete against one another to cook the most well made dish within 15 minutes, while only using ingredients taken from a celebrity guest’s refrigerator. Not only do these scenes illustrate how skillful the chefs are at creating dishes from almost anything, but they also demonstrate how many different types of food, ranging from simple pastries to fancy noodles, can be cooked right at home. People are attracted to these new shows related to cooking because of the vicarious nature of the culinary arts that these chefs are now bringing to the screen. Audience members feel great pleasure simply by watching the chefs perform cooking procedures with great finesse. As more and more chefs have started to expand their profession on screen, more people have begun to recognize the need and viability of pursuing more creative career choices.

“It’s obvious that people love watching these programs because these skilled chefs provide useful information,” said Elaine Kim (11), viewer of cooking programs. “The more important aspect, however, is that these shows essentially hint at how different jobs have their own values, not just those standardized jobs that Korean people tend to think are the only pathway to success.”

According to a report from The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, “foreign students disproportionately study law, medical, and business fields,” accounting for roughly 67 percent of all majors declared for these students. As these statistics show, many Asians prefer jobs that society traditionally views as more valuable and highly educational.

Even though such solid motives catch the audience’s attention, the whole presentation of these shows is not without their flaws. Some of the chefs are becoming too busy to take care of their private restaurants, thus losing their original motives.

“I understand how people want to become celebrities and earn both the economic benefits and reputation,” Timothy Kim (10) said. “But I think these chefs from cooking programs should focus on their actual job and not slip away into stardom.”

Although some audiences may find discomfort in watching how chefs are abandoning their original purposes of occupations, the general public still seems to find these programs riveting. The chefs are still likely to dominate the entertainment industries in Korea while gaining popularity on their own and spreading indirect acknowledgement of ingenious jobs.

“I think that a homogeneous culture such as ours is becoming more open-minded towards different occupations,” Leo Lee (12) said. “People are more willing to explore their passions rather than just adhere to social norms about jobs that are considered valuable and jobs that are not.  Social prestige is no longer the reason to choose a job. Your actual passion is what matters.”