Uniting Families Through Food: Book Review of The Kimchi Chronicles

By: Marnely Rodriguez

As much as I'd love to travel to Korea and eat amazing food, that's not a current possibility right this second. Thus, I live vicariously though Marja Vongerichten's cookbook, The Kimchi Chronicles. I fell in love with Korean food during culinary school and having a Korean best friend fed this addiction. Her roommate wouldn't allow kimchi in their dorm room, so at my place was her secret stash. I of course allowed kimchi in my room- the more, the merrier!

Two years later and everytime I've run into a Korean restaurant, I've got to stop, sit, and enjoy a meal. Nothing beats the fiery and fermented flavors of the Korean kitchen, and the rituals just make it even more delicious. Having 10 to 20 small dishes before your main course arrives is foodie heaven, right?

Through the eyes of Marja, we discover a Korea unknown but familiar; with new traditions to learn and delicious recipes to recreate. Born to an American army serviceman and a Korean mother, she was adopted by the age of three and taken to live in the United States. Seventeen years later, at the age of twenty and while living in New York, she discovered that her biological mother was living a few blocks away from her! Food will always bring families together, and it does just that with Marja, whose mission was to reunite herself with the flavors, aromas, and adventures of the Korean kitchen.

Gorgeously photographed, The Kimchi Chronicles covers everything from easy soups, grilled meats, noodle dishes, and of course, many kimchi-based recipes.  Some of the recipes you'll discover include the ultimate cabbage Kimchi, Bibimbap, Korean barbeque dishes, and even Bulgogi.

Something that makes this book unique is that not only will you be able to recreate traditional Korean recipes in your kitchen, but Marja's husband, no other than the world renowned Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, takes this recipes and recreates them with his own French twists.

More of a visual person? Check out The Kimchi Chronicles DVD series, where you'll experience the sights and sounds of Korea through Marja's voice, alongside her husband Jean-Georges, their daughter Chloe, and friend and actress, Heather Graham.

Marnely Rodriguez, author of the food blog, Cooking with Books. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, has worked as an Overnight Bread Baker in Colorado, a Chocolate Maker in Virginia as well as a Pastry Cook on the whimsical island of Martha's Vineyard, just to name a few. Currently residing on Martha's Vineyard, where she is an endless search of flavors, tropical fruits and gastronomic inspiration. Follow her on Twitter: @nella22 

For more articles from Marnely, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)

James Beard Awards Best New Restaurant Nominees

Every year in May since 1990, the James Beard Foundation has honored extraordinary men, women, and organizations in the food and beverage world. It's an amazing honor for those nominated, and gives recognition to establishments across the United States. I'll be presenting an award this year, and I'm very honored at the opportunity to participate in the ceremony. Like the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Awards generate media hype and provoke intense speculation. On May 6th and 9th, food-lovers, journalists, and chefs will watch as the winners are announced. Listed in no particular order, here are the five restaurants that opened in 2010 vying for the prize in the Best New Restaurant category.

1. ABC Kitchen: Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a restaurant industry veteran. His latest creation, ABC Kitchen, serves local and organic food inside a trendy home furnishings store. Serving dishes like pretzel dusted calamari and cavatelli with ramps, ABC Kitchen has been one of the year's most exciting New York restaurants.

2. Benu: French Laundry alum Corey Lee heads the kitchen at Benu, a new San Francisco hotspot. Benu's inventive, Asian-inflected food reflects on his personal history-monkfish liver torchon nods at Thomas Keller's foie gras dishes, while thousand-year-old quail egg riffs on classic Chinese cookery.

3. Girl & the Goat: Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard's restaurant Girl & The Goat has rapidly become a Chicago dining standard. The menu ranges from chickpea fritters to roasted pork shank with truffled apples. Izard aims to please all palates, both meat-obsessed and vegetarian.

4. Menton: Menton is a French town on the Italian border, and Barbara Lynch's newest restaurant straddles those two culinary worlds. Seasonal produce drives the menu, which might begin with asparagus gelee and end with a spiced chocolate cake.

5. Torrisi Italian Specialties: At Torrisi Italian Specialties, no reservations are accepted and only one menu is served. Typically, the set menu includes a cluster of antipasti, pasta, a main, and dessert. This New York phenomenon is incredibly popular, packed with diners every night before the sun even sets.

What restaurant do you think should win Best New Restaurant this year? For more on the James Beard Awards click here.