Kuyong Park, the Executive Chef at Cafe great Ontario and its professional roots in Yongsan Garrison
YGS: Which years did you work at Dragon Hill Lodge?
KYP: From 2001 to 2007
YGS: What was your role in there?
KYP: I worked at the Restaurant Green Street of DHL as Cook.
YGS: When you joined in there were you interested in learning how to cook American dishes?
KYP: I was always interested in learning how to cook, I tried all my best to learn how to cook American dishes, so I could experience all the shifts of the kitchen; breakfast (3years), lunch (1years) and dinner (3years).
YGS: Which was the reason you decided to work for DHL and not outside base in a Korean restaurant?
KYP: In DHL I could work in an American culture environment; this means I could have more exposure to English too. I could learn advanced kitchen system and management by working for an American Hotel such as DHL. I could work in a sensible working hour’s environment based on performance not on hours spent at work. This taught me to be efficient and have full concentration when It was my work time.
YGS: How much do you think working in a Hotel on base targeting military western people (not only Americans but also from the countries that are part of the UN command helped you on your professional carrier?
KYP: I experienced western culture helping me understanding it. I could also realize about the disadvantages of Korean culture and how I can improve those by adapting what’s better from western culture. In my case working at DHL helped me opening the doors in USA. I got a great and helpful recommendation from DHL for jobs at Ritz Carlton and Shangri-La Hotels.
YGS: What do you think made your years of experience in DHL different from any other chef like you working in Korea outside Base?
KYP: Apart from the previously mentioned I usually practiced English after my shift, that time I sat on a sofa in the hotel lobby. Sometime I would meet the GM of DHL at the lobby, he would say ‘hello’ to me and would asked ‘what are you doing here?’ I would answer ‘I am just practicing my English and doing my university homework as usual’. And then He would give me a thumbs-up sign saying ‘good job, Keep going’ I kept on going like this during all my 6.5 years working at DHL. I would not have been able to have learned this much and combined work and studies if I would have worked outside base.
I finished 4 years of university and 2 years of graduate school while working as a cook and learning the first steps that would take me to where I am now.
(Interview with Executive Chef Ku Yong Park @ku-yong-pak on 7th May 2017) @timmitchell