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Posted : 2008-06-10 17:07
Updated : 2008-06-10 17:07

Sikgaek Brings Korean Cuisine Back to TV Screen


Lead actors of the drama “Sikgaek” line up to wish their drama good luck before its first airing Monday on SBS. / Yonhap

By Han Sang-hee
Staff Reporter

Seoul Broadcast System (SBS)'s ``Sikgaek'' will once again bring the delicious and colorful dishes of Korean cuisine to the television screen next week. While the hit drama ``Jewel in the Palace'' (2003) wowed fans with royal cuisine, ``Sikgaek'' will offer a wider range of dishes from traditional to everyday recipes.

``The drama is aimed to show the true potential of Korean food,'' said Choi Jong-soo, the producer of the drama, at a press conference Monday.

The drama is based on cartoonist Hur Young-man's popular namesake cartoon that first appeared as a newspaper series in 2002. The journey of the ambitious and talented chef-to-be Lee Sung-chan was also released as a movie, ``Le Grand Chef'' in 2007.

Korean heartthrob Kim Rae-won (``My Little Bride,'' 2004) will star as the warm hearted chef-in-training Lee, while actress Nam Sang-mi (TV drama ``Sweet Spy,'' 2005) will play a silly country girl, Kim Jin-soo, who trails Lee with high hopes of becoming a food columnist. Veteran actor Choi Bool-am will appear as Master Oh Sook-soo, Lee's stepfather and the only person who truly believes in Lee's potential.

Lee is a happy and bright young man who loves to cook. Leaving the heavy responsibility of becoming the head chef of Oh's famous restaurant to his stepbrother, he explores the world of cooking and discovers that he's actually good at it. When Oh announces that he will not choose his own son to become the owner and head chef, cold-hearted jealousy and competition arise.

Because of the prevalent close-up scenes that show the actors cooking and slicing food, they had to undergo highly demanding training to present impeccable cooking skills.

``We learned to cook from renowned chefs for three months before starting the drama. We wanted to offer the whole package ourselves. The food, the acting and the cooking,'' said 27-year old Kim, showing some of the ``honorable'' cuts on his hands.

For the 68-year-old actor Choi, however, it was more than a challenge to bring out his culinary side.

``I usually don't go in the kitchen so I was actually scared. Although I tried to change by going into kitchens and talking with chefs, old habits die hard,'' said Choi.

So the actor worked on other features that would help him become the master of chefs.

``My character is a person who cooked his entire life. Hygiene is very important to him. I shake my hands frequently because chefs usually try not to get anything on their hands. It's like our mothers when they finish washing the dishes. My ponytail also prevents hair from falling on the food,'' he said confidently.

A quick preview of the drama showed that it indeed focuses on the gastronomy to the utmost. By traveling around the nation looking for the best ingredients and recipes, ``Sikgaek'' is expected to present the meaning and devotion put into each dish.

``By looking into the lives of farmers, fishermen and even the livestock, cooking will bring a whole new meaning,'' said Kim.

``The young ones will cook, and I'll be teaching our ancestor's wisdom that was put into Korean dishes. We hope the viewers feel the charm of Korean food through the drama,'' Choi added.

``Sikgaek'' will start airing at 9:55p.m. June 16 on SBS.

sanghee@koreatimes.co.kr

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