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Why Kwang Hee ‘Mama’ Park is the Queen of Kimchi

The chef has perfected the art of making the fermented dish over the course of 20 years

After winning Fuji TV and MBC’s Master of Kimchi contest, Kwang Hee “Mama” Park knew that making the fermented dish was her calling. “A lot of people think they know kimchi,” says Park. “There are as many kimchi recipes as there are mothers in Korea. They’re all different.”

Since winning the contest, she has spent 20 years perfecting her process, using premium ingredients from her farm in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She has become such an expert at making kimchi that she now teaches well-known chefs how to do it. She has developed 70 varieties, including one of her most popular: dandelion kimchi. Now she sells her many developed varieties, made-to-order, worldwide.

Park, along with her son, make about four tons of kimchi, entirely by hand, per year. Her devotion to growing fresh ingredients, drying her own spices, creating new kinds of kimchi, and doing everything by hand is what she believes makes her kimchi so good and high quality,

“Ever since I first started making kimchi 20 years ago, I never swayed from these beliefs,” she says. “Even after I die, I hope for people to say that my kimchi was the best.”

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