Chef Cho Hee-sook Biography (Korea)

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Discover the inspiring journey of Chef Cho Hee-sook, Korea’s culinary maestro. Explore her passion for traditional Korean cuisine and how she elevated it to global acclaim. From humble beginnings to becoming the first Korean woman to be awarded the prestigious Michelin star, Chef Cho Hee-sook’s biography is a testament to culinary excellence and cultural heritage. Delve into her culinary innovations and contributions as she continues to redefine the gastronomic landscape. Get a taste of her remarkable story today.


Chef Cho Hee-sook, a prominent figure in the culinary world, has made a significant impact on the gastronomy scene in South Korea and internationally. Her innovative approach to traditional Korean cuisine, coupled with her tireless efforts to promote Korean food culture, has earned her numerous accolades and global recognition. In this biography, we delve into the life and achievements of Chef Cho Hee-sook, tracing her journey from humble beginnings to becoming a trailblazer in the culinary realm.

Early Life and Education:

Cho Hee-sook was born on April 4, 1963, in Seoul, South Korea. Growing up in a family with a deep appreciation for food, she developed a passion for cooking from an early age. Her parents, both avid home cooks, instilled in her a love for traditional Korean flavors and culinary techniques. They often took her to local markets, where she was introduced to a wide variety of fresh ingredients and inspired to experiment with different recipes.

After completing her secondary education, Cho Hee-sook enrolled in the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul to pursue a degree in Korean literature. While studying literature, she realized that her true calling lay in the culinary arts. Driven by her passion, she made the brave decision to change her career path and pursue her dreams of becoming a chef.

Culinary Training and Career Beginnings:

In 1991, Cho Hee-sook enrolled at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris, France. The rigorous training she received there honed her skills and broadened her culinary horizons. She immersed herself in the rich culinary traditions of France while staying true to her Korean roots. This fusion of cuisines would later become a hallmark of her cooking style.

After completing her culinary education, Cho Hee-sook returned to South Korea and embarked on her professional career. She began working at the renowned Korean restaurant, Hanilkwan, in Seoul. Under the guidance of Master Chef Kim Young-hee, she refined her understanding of traditional Korean cuisine and mastered the art of balancing flavors and textures.

Culinary Innovations and Restaurant Ownership:

In 1997, Chef Cho Hee-sook opened her own restaurant, Hansikgonggan, in Seoul. It quickly gained recognition for its innovative approach to Korean cuisine, blending traditional techniques with modern influences. Her dishes showcased a deep respect for Korean culinary heritage while incorporating contemporary elements that appealed to a broader audience.

At Hansikgonggan, Chef Cho Hee-sook introduced a farm-to-table concept, sourcing ingredients directly from local farmers and artisans. Her commitment to using high-quality, seasonal produce not only elevated the taste and freshness of her dishes but also supported local communities and sustainable practices.

Recognition and Awards:

Chef Cho Hee-sook’s culinary talents did not go unnoticed. In 2008, she became the first female chef to receive the Grand Prize at the Korean Cuisine Contest, a prestigious culinary competition in South Korea. This landmark achievement marked the beginning of her rise to prominence in the culinary world.

In 2019, Chef Cho Hee-sook received the title of Asia’s Best Female Chef by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. This recognition highlighted her contributions to Korean cuisine and her efforts to promote it globally. The award also showcased her dedication to breaking barriers in a male-dominated industry, inspiring aspiring female chefs worldwide.

Her success continued in 2020 when Hansikgonggan received a Michelin star, making Chef Cho Hee-sook the first female chef in Korea to earn this esteemed accolade. The recognition solidified her position as a culinary pioneer, setting new standards for Korean gastronomy.


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