Are You Being Served? 7 K-Drama Master Chefs Who Own The Kitchen

There is something irresistible when a handsome chef rolls up his sleeves, wields the kitchen knife with clever precision, dices vegetables, blends the ingredients, and grills the meat, going through the complex motions of cooking with the skillful ease of a maestro. If you are wondering where can you find this embodiment of perfection, who even plates the food with flair, well you don’t need to look too far. K-dramas have given us the prototype of the complete man, who has defied the stereotypical image of the hero in pop culture narratives. The kitchen has been owned by the men in these dramas who have proven their expertise as cooks over and above their many skills, masterfully ladling out scrumptious fare.

Without further ado, here are seven talented K-drama chefs who had viewers tempted and craving their hearts out.

Wok of Love

A super talented star chef at a luxurious hotel, Seo Poong (Lee Junho) is a rising star whose popularity irks the senior chef and his team. However, proud of his abilities and innovative cooking techniques, Poong remains unaffected, until a turn of events leads him to losing his job. He gets a double blow when he discovers his wife’s affair with the CEO of the hotel.

Poong lands up at the Hungry Wok, a dilapidated Chinese restaurant owned by a gangster named Doo Chil (Jang Hyuk) and runs into a jjajangmyeon-loving, in-debt heiress named Dan Sae Woo (Jung Ryeo Won), who has been dumped by her husband. Determined to succeed, Poong takes over Hungry Wok and reworks the menu, creating mouthwatering dishes and giving his signature touch to regular fare, which makes Hungry Wok popular. Poong finds the perfect cheerleader in Sae Woo, who not only becomes his assisting chef in the kitchen but also makes her way into his heart. Poong and Sae Woo’s chemistry adds to the extra sizzle.

Lee Junho, who had undertaken workshops in cooking from basic knife skills to preparing ingredients and using the wok, is so convincing as Poong. He brings the kitchen alive. A word of caution: “Wok of Love” should not be watched on an empty stomach as Poong’s preparation of sweet and sour pork and jjajangmyeon will only add to your hunger pangs.

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Warm and Cozy

Heartbroken Lee Jung Joo (Kang Sora) moves to Jeju Island to start her life over after she loses her job and home and is also dumped by her boyfriend. She runs into the wealthy, laidback Baek Gun Woo (Yoo Yeon Seok), owner of the restaurant Warm and Cozy. Gun Woo is a talented chef, but he is a smooth-talking charmer, making Jung Joo weary of him and his ways.

Gun Woo only cooks when he feels the need to. Yoo Yeon Seok had admitted that he had worked on that aspect of his character, who enjoys the process of cooking rather than creating fancy dishes. As Jung Joo’s and Gun Woo’s personalities clash, her irritation with his immaturity and lies provoke her, whilst he gets irritated with her complex nature. Plus, the famous K-drama trope of having a past between the two simmers to the surface. Though the drama lags in bits and the over-the-top behavior of the characters could have been trimmed a bit, the key character of Jeju Island will win you over with its picturesque beauty and charm. The color palette of the show is also vibrant and warm, reflecting the island setting, and you can well imagine yourself taking a walk down the coast and stepping into Warm and Cozy for a bite.

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Degree of Love

An underrated drama, “Degree of Lovegently draws and entwines you into the life of its two characters Lee Hyun Soo (Seo Hyun Jin) and Jung Sun (Yang Se Jong). Hyun Soo is a drama writer awaiting her big break, and Jung Sun is a French food chef who has attended culinary school in Paris. He opens the classy Good Soup restaurant. The two meet, and sparks fly, but they go their separate ways and are fated to meet yet again.

The push and pull between Hyun Soo’s pragmatic personality and Jung Sun’s more sensitive and passionate one is well played. Beyond the obvious romance, there are other sub plots which are interwoven akin to a main course with several side dishes, each enhancing the flavor of the show. And Seo Hyun Jin and Yang Se Jong’s chemistry adds the zing factor.

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Oh My Ghostess

Imagine a buffet where you can sample a bit of everything: romance, a dash of revenge, a pinch of comedy, and sprinkled with some supernatural fare. This is basically what you get with “Oh My Ghostess.”

Na Bong Sun (Park Bo Young) is an assistant at the kitchen of superstar Chef Kang Sun Woo’s (Jo Jung Suk) Sun restaurant. Bong Sun is timid, and though she aspires to be a chef, the only hurdle in her way are ghosts – she can see them, and they bother her. Things get out of hand when the virgin ghost Shin Soon Ae (Kim Seul Gi) possesses Bong Sun, whose personality undergoes a shift from shy to bold and coy to flirty. The arrogant Chef Kang can’t resist Bong Sun’s charms, and things get steamy in the kitchen. On the menu, apart from the many adventures and misadventures, what stood out the most was the homemade cabbage porridge and Jo Jung Suk singing “Gimme a Chocolate.”

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Meet Chef Choi Hyun Wook (Lee Sun Kyun), the master chef who takes over La Sfera, an Italian restaurant. He is a bit of a chauvinist and territorial about his kitchen, which translates to him having little patience with the hardworking assistant pasta Chef Seo Yoo Kyung (Gong Hyo Jin).

Hyun Wook decides to reform his new place of work and fires all the female staff since he believes that women don’t belong in “his” kitchen and tend to complicate things. Hyun Wook has been scarred in the past and is weary of women, but his best laid plans go awry. He sees the potential in Yoo Kyung, and she realizes that despite his brusque nature, she has a lot to learn from him. As they say, a lot can happen over a bowl of pasta. Sparks fly, and together they tide through kitchen politics and past heartbreaks to make their restaurant a success. “Pasta” is a fairly straightforward fare, and the chemistry between Gong Hyo Jin and Lee Sun Kyun is cute and uncomplicated.

Sweet Munchies

Here we find a bistro to heal the brokenhearted, calm the stressed, and nourish the fatigued. Chef Park Jin Sung’s (Jung Il Woo) hands work magic as he serves a scrumptious spread to his guests. Bogged down by debt, he decides to participate in a cooking show. But here comes the twist: he lies about his sexual orientation since Kim Ah Jin (Kang Ji Young) is looking for a gay chef. What ensues is a comedy of errors, especially when fashion designer Kang Tae Wan (Lee Hak Joo) arrives on the scene.

“Sweet Munchies” will tantalize you with some delicious fare such as mouthwatering tofu stew and fried chicken. But the drama also sensitively delves into socio cultural issues, be it battling sexism in the workplace or the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community. And a special shoutout to Jung Il Woo, who channeled his inner chef by doing all the cooking by himself!

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Mr. Queen

Smug and arrogant, meet Jang Bong Hwan (Choi Jin Hyuk), the hunky chef at the Blue House, the presidential home. One day fate gets the better of him as Bong Hwan meets a freak accident and time travels to find himself trapped inside the body of Kim So Yong (Shin Hye Sun), a queen in the Joseon period. Now stuck in a time eons away from his modern world, he is trapped in a body of a different gender, and to make matters worse, his inquisitive nose leads him to chance upon palace intrigues and uncover a lot of shady business. But as they say, once a chef, always a chef. Bong Hwan aka So Yong spices up the royal kitchen by bringing a taste of flavors and aromas from the modern world, not yet known by the people of the palace. “Mr. Queen” is a fun watch, sprinkled liberally with humor, and the comic timing of Choi Jin Hyuk and Shin Hye Sun does not falter at any point!

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Hey Soompiers, which one of these dramas features your favorite K-drama chef? Let us know in the comments below!

Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Song Joong Ki and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min Ho, Gong Yoo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.

All-time favorite dramas: “Descendants of the Sun,” “Queen of the Game,” and “Reply 1988.”
Currently watching: “Interest of Love”

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