Cho Hee-sook, chef-owner of Hansikgonggan in Seoul, has been named Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2020. Chef Cho will be presented with her award at the ceremony for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, on Tuesday 24th March in Saga Prefecture, Japan.
The award forms part of the 50 Best organisation’s mission to honour role models who have made a positive impact on Asia’s restaurant scene. William Drew, Director of Content at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, says: “The Best Female Chef award celebrates female chefs whose dedication, skills and creativity set new standards in gastronomic excellence. Cho Hee-sook epitomises the spirit of this award with her lifelong commitment to advancing Korean cuisine through training, education and mentorship.”
Chef Cho has spent most of her career sharing her in-depth knowledge of Korean cooking with young chefs, ensuring her country’s unique culinary traditions and recipes are passed on to future generations.
Cho developed her culinary skills in the kitchens of Seoul’s premium hotels before being appointed executive chef at the South Korean embassy in Washington DC, USA. Returning home in 2006, Cho focused on culinary research, exploring local ingredients and nurturing young talent. She inspired many gastronomy students as a professor at Woosong University.
In 2019, Cho’s career took a new direction when she became chef-owner of Hansikgonggan, an intimate Michelin-starred Korean restaurant specialising in royal court cuisine. While honouring traditional Korean cooking techniques, Cho has reinterpreted the historic recipes through modern ingredients, fine-dining elements and stylish plating. Hansikgonggan illustrates Chef Cho’s creative vision to move her national cuisine forward.
Accepting the prestigious award, Cho says: “Having mentored many young chefs throughout my career, I hope this award serves as an inspiration for other Asian female chefs to follow their passions, be ambitious and share their knowledge with others.”
Previous holders of the Asia’s Best Female Chef title include Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava from Thailand (2013), Lanshu Chen from Taiwan (2014), Hong Kong’s Vicky Lau (2015), Margarita Fores of the Philippines (2016), May Chow from Hong Kong (2017) as well as Bongkoch ‘Bee’ Satongun (2018) and Garima Arora (2019), both based in Thailand.