Sometimes, the best pairings are the most unconventional ones. In this case, a brand new television series has successfully fused the raw talent and toughness of self-proclaimed “demon chef” Alvin Leung, owner of the three-Michelin starred restaurant Bo Innovation, with the charisma and charm of celebrity chef Matthew Chung (host of the television series Chef Foodcation) in the brand new Life Inspired television series Seoul Refined.
The two have an undeniable chemistry and this translates on screen, where their magnetism instantly lures viewers to their new show, which highlights some of Seoul’s best epicurean hotspots.
This is Leung’s second Life Inspired show, following the popular Seoul Extreme, which saw him travelling across Seoul to unearth the secrets of the city’s cuisine – trawling markets, hawker stalls and family-run eateries and creating his own versions of classic Korean favourites.
In this new series, Leung’s co-host Chung takes him through some of Seoul’s more refined (read: atas) restaurants as Leung looks for much-need inspiration to put together an all-Korean menu at his new restaurant in Hong Kong.
Interestingly, this will be the second time the two have worked together, having paired up on Leung’s Seoul Extreme before this.
“It’s a great pleasure to have chef Matthew Chung as my partner in crime for this journey to discover Seoul, a city rich in flavours and traditions,” says Leung.
“In this journey, we talk about four things that every fine restaurant must have: a strong identity, unique recipes, fresh ingredients and of course, great service. Be it expensive or cheap, it’s about the dedication and the craft of cooking.”
The series only has four episodes but the duo pack a lot into their busy schedule – finding the time to eat at Pierre Gagnaire Seoul, La Yeon, Mingles and Jungsik Dang, restaurants that are either highly-acclaimed, Michelin-starred or listed in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
But the show isn’t so much about eating at these establishments as it is understanding how things work, why certain dishes are made a particular way and what makes people tick in a culinary sense.
So you’ll discover the history behind temple cuisine, army food, “single people” food, heartbreak food, traditional palace food, and even the ultimate Korean hangover food, as Leung unearths more information from the country’s best chefs and restaurateurs.
And you can bet your bottom dollar this tough chef isn’t content to let things lie – he goes one step further and explores the concept of “refined” food, often by questioning and grilling chefs (expect to see some chefs fumbling for answers as Leung fires away questions).
So if you’re looking for a slice of Korean gourmet food accompanied by a large dollop of history in the company of two illustrious chefs, prepare to be dazzled by the discoveries uncovered in Seoul Refined.
Seoul Refined airs on Sundays at 9pm on Life Inspired (Astro Channel 728).