Home > Korean Dramas > Gourmet Episode 1, recap

Gourmet Episode 1, recap

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m not sure if I’ll be recapping this one – my hands are full with Legend and Iljimae already, but anyway , it looks interesting and well done. SBS must be happy, to have Iljimae doing so well and Gourmet beating down Chil Woo with an elephant-sized hammer.

Episode 1

The episode begins on a rather sombre note, as servants in the royal palace are told to reduce the amount of cooking done by the royal kitchens. The Japanese army has invaded, and are reinforcing their powers even in the royal palace. We are told that it is 1910. The chief chef is no longer to cook for the king, but he asks permission to prepare one last meal for the king.

The significance of this last meal is lost on no one, as from this day onwards Korea will cease to be a monarchy, instead coming under Japanese control. The soup that the head cook serves was made from a secret recipe that has been passed down through the generations – it’s a reminder to the king of their national heritage (the soup itself sounds like lo pyung soup, but I have no Korean skills, alas).

The king is touched at the gesture and takes a photo with the head cook.

Lee Sung Chan, the character played by Kim Rae Won, is that man’s son. He’s not like his successful and well-behaved older brother at all, but that’s okay, because he’s got cooking skill in spades. (And though he’s supposed to be a youngish twentysomething, KRW just doesn’t cut it.)

His brother, Bong Joo, comes to take him out of cooking class to go fish shopping with their father, thus lifting him out of trouble with the supervisor. Through some stubborn old-man posturing, his father manages to put Sung Chan in charge of purchases, and he shows himself to be very knowledgeable about fish (I suspect everything else having to do with food too).

Friction is already present as the older brother airs his grievances at his father always being picky about which raw materials he picks (in this case preferring hook-caught to net-caught) – we can tell he’s the one running the family restaurant because he’s annoyed at rising costs and gripes at his father about ‘not cooking for the king anymore’. (I bet he’s just jealous of his brother’s culinary abilities.) The father, already frail in body, is hurt at what he sees as his son’s departure from family philosophy.

Bong Joo is a good team leader, and gets things started quickly once he goes back to the restaurant. (Hey, the actor’s English isn’t too bad! He gets to greet foreign guests.) The restaurant itself is built in the antique palace style, catering to the most prestigious as well as offering the best food. The director has fun doing funky restaurant set up shots.

Oh yum. Food. I’m craving Korean again.

Meanwhile, Joo Hee the PR goddess fields questions about a new restaurant in construction and dodges queries about the successor to the very lucrative business.

From the dad’s conduct when buying fish, we can see that he’s very stuck on the traditional way of doing things – to the point of ordering fresh fish in the middle of winter. (And he succeeds too, if not at a price his son is happy with.)

The elderly chef prepares a meal for the Chairman of the Board himself, and evokes such a homey feeling in his cooking that it reduces the chairman to tears. His elder son, Bong Joo, stands by and listens respectfully to the two men rehashing their past. Later, he broods about transitioning the tradition his father holds so dear to marketing his restaurant.

(So… if his father was alive and working as a head cook in 1910… then assuming he was a genius and came into full culinary powers at the age of 20, uh, he’d be really old now. Like, decrepit old. And the two boys would be… more than 20-30 somethings. Was it really so implausible to make them grandsons? Or are there too many chaebol grandsons walking around already? Oh timeline and plothole issues, must you plague me so?)

Little brother Sung Chan is hard at work trying to replicate the taste of the soup his father made, with lots of frustration and little success. In the morning, however, we see that he’s made breakfast soup for everyone. And his father praises it, thus making Sung Chan’s day.

And then daddy promotes his baby boy to undercook. (So far I’ve seen three necktie colours – orange is the highest – only two of them, followed by blue, then an army of green – Sung Chan is wearing a blue necktie now.) Random dude in orange is super jealous but projects by saying how gloating Sung Chan looks, when the guy is just overcome by happiness.

He gets a set of new knives from his father, as well as permission to go with the contigent of chefs cooking for a banquet at the Japanese ambassador’s residence. Unfortunately, he is too busy chatting up pretty assistants at the Embassy to notice his knives falling to the ground. Jealous orange dude takes the opportunity to kick the knives aside into convenient shrubbery (insecure, much?).

Of course, Sung Chan, when he has to cook, gets into trouble… and he’s not going to find his knives in the thicket either… His brother and dude in orange are whipping up yummy food while he looks for his knives. (No one brought a spare set? That’s just amazingly asking for trouble.)

zOMG, older bro Bong Joo speaks French too! (Talk of well educated! Plus, his name even sounds like hello, if you strain your pronunciation.)

Sung Chan compromises by… using his brother’s knives. That was amazingly simple.

Just then, the actual ambassador comes to visit, and requests more food. The other two demur, citing lack of material, but Sung Chan opens his big mouth and says okay. Bong Joo and jealous orange dude are passively annoyed. Orange dude is actually enraged, either at Sung Chan’s promotion or at his skill, or at having to work after hours, idk, but anyway, shows his mean-spiritedness a lot. (I get the feeling we’re meant to dislike him unconditionally.)

Oh. Orange dude is jealous because Sung Chan’s not actually Chief Cook Oh’s son. (Suddenly things make more sense.) He says many mean things, and I guess Sung Chan is also sensitive, because the two get into a fight. In a kitchen with lots of knives nearby. Well, never let it be said that the Koreans don’t know how to be dangerous.

Bong Joo breaks up the fight and sets them to work. He also speaks Japanese. (Wow, SBS has been infected with Gary Stu/Mary Sue virus.) The other two serve silently with bruises and cuts.

Sung Chan is too popular with everyone, that’s his problem. Aww, and he likes the hostess/manager/PR goddess.

Of course the bruising doesn’t get past chief cook Oh. He rakes them fore and aft for fighting in a sacred place like the kitchen and dismisses them wrathfully. JOD takes the opportunity to spread more seeds of dissent, hinting to Bong Joo that he should be successor, and that the idiotic Sung Chan shouldn’t even be considered.

After some fruitless searching for replacement knives, Sung Chan comes home and sees that his father has uncovered his insane obsession with cooking. When he reveals that he’s read and made every recipe in the house, the dad takes him into the kitchen. Sung Chan, desperate to avoid telling his dad he’s lost the knives, and asks JOD for his set – and JOD rubs his face in it, taking joy in his plight and being a generally good liar and all-around bastard. (So good to see stock characters establish themselves.)

Sung Chan gets ready with his father, but cannot bring himself to begin (nor can he, without those nice sharp bits of metal called.. oh yeah, what are they again?) JOD comes in bearing his own knife set, and for a moment my heart rises in hope for a 3-D character, but alas, it is dashed, for JOD is just being a bastard again.

(It really is Sung Chan’s fault for being so careless, but the other guy’s spreading the salt on the wound rather heavily.)

Chief cook is angry and disappointed. He sends Sung Chan away while JOD, opportunist that he is, ingratiates himself with the old man. The chief cook actually has heart trouble (I’d be surprised if he had perfect health, being so ancient and all, but anyway).

The next day, he has his lawyer read out the decision for his successor – actually not a decision but more an announcement – all cooks are considered eligible for the position, and the one deemed to be the most skillful in cooking will inherit the spot.

End episode.


– It’s kind of slow atm, but who can resist the abundance of yummy-looking food? That’s what started me on the monster epic of Dae Jang Geum, after all.

– Jealous orange dude has a name, and it’s Min Woo, but I think jealous orange dude has a better ring to it, don’t you?

– I predict that the dad is going to fall terminally ill, requiring his sons (and possibly jealous orange dude) to do a cook-off, the results of which determines who inherits the business and thus creating tons of competition and the need for a cross-country search of home recipes. Nam Sang Mi is somewhere in there, looking pretty and cooking?

– Believe it or not, I wrote that halfway through the episode. But this just means that this show is rather predictable – maybe I’ll follow it, but probably the recaps won’t be as fast as Iljimae’s. (On the other hand, my days are now filled Mon-Thurs. Alas for work.)


  1. irugnotmis
    Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    if you don’t have the time, let’s team tag it!

  2. sevenses
    Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Sure! I do odd, you do even? 😀

  3. irugnotmis
    Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 7:31 pm


  4. fly away
    Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    according to the show’s website, sung chan is not the son of the head chef but his descendant, and the man who raises him (bong joo’s dad) was his grandfather’s friend. hope that clears up issues with the timeline lol.

  5. flyingcrispi
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 7:47 am

    This show is great and mainly because of the food. Seeing how Korean food looked so great and tasty, I went on a Korean restaurant hunt downtown, but there was nothing but Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian food. Whyyyyyyyyy?
    And then I went to a Chinese grocery store and found some kimchi. The only Korean meal I’ve ate so far. Rather spicy.
    And I’m watching “We got married”, where Andy and Solbi make amazing food, so I’m craving Korean too… But enough with my life.
    The drama seems interesting, but predictable (rivalry/love geometry), so I’ll keep watching and reading the recaps!

    “Nam Sang Mi is somewhere in there, looking pretty and cooking?”
    Well, she’s a journalist, food critic or something, so you’ll just see her eat. Ah, what a lucky girl. If I were an actress, I would only play in dramas or movies where I eat tons of good food.

    “Jealous orange dude has a name, and it’s Min Woo, but I think jealous orange dude has a better ring to it, don’t you?”
    He looks eviiiiiiil. JOD is great, now I don’t even have to remember his name.

    Good luck with your job and all,

  6. sevenses
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    YUM FOOD. I am ashamed to admit that French cuisine is about the only type of cooking I haven’t ventured to taste (unless you count fondue). Then again, Montreal being Montreal, apparently the only good ones are expensive. *sigh* I love baguettes, though. 🙂

    I’m trying to learn how to make Chinese food. So far am okay with veggie stir-fry. The meat is kind of yucky to handle but my garlic butter shrimp is to die for, or so my parents tell me. But still not at level of cooks in tv shows.

    So basically you’re looking at an Enok kind of role. Good to know. 😛

    I think it’s in the eyes. They radiate evil vibes.


  7. flyingcrispi
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 4:59 am

    So you’re not the next Martha Stewart… lol
    You have no tried French food yet? Not even some Quiche Lorraine? You know, most of the dishes in France are relatively easy to cook, so you could probably do it yourself.
    Here’s a site with lots of French food recipes, so knock yourself out:

  8. sevenses
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 10:18 am

    I have very little idea of what real French food is. I mean, the only one I’m clear on is Italian (and Greek because of all that garlic). I’ve had Quiche Lorraine, but it was frozen, so I’m not sure how much that counts. 😀

    Yay recipes! Right now I’m the queen of salad since it’s way too hot to do anything else. Yum gourmet mustard. *_*

  9. flyingcrispi
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Real French food? Like kimchi in Korea?
    If you want something typical then it’s “Boeuf Bourgignon”, “Coq au vin”, “Aïoli” (provençal), “Tarte Tatin”… Oh yeah, you can always try to eat frogs ^^ (never tried, never will, eww)

    Ah I’m starting to regret the low temperatures of winter. It’s very..smothering here.

  10. irugnotmis
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    “frogs” are good, so are l’escargots!

  11. flyingcrispi
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    I ate escargots when I was little, but when I learned that they were the same thing as the little creatures crawling in the streets when it rains, I cried for two days, and never ate some again.

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