Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Yurum Nam of ZUSIK in NYC
Zusik in the heart of New York City's West Village features multi-cultural influences from countries like France and China. Executive Chef/Co-owner Yurum Nam creates a masterful medley of different cuisines that pay homage to his homeland of South Korea as well as to his impressive global training. We had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Yurum Nam for our "Chef Spotlight."
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
My earliest interest in cooking came from my mother. She owned and operated a restaurant in a traditional Korean market specializing in the famous Korean Pancake. As a child, eating and learning to make pancakes as well as other Korean cuisine from my mother, heavily influenced my culinary style and sparked a profound interest in the culinary arts.
Who were some of your career mentors?
Professor Sangyong Chu has been one of my mentors from the start of my career. He taught me culinary skills as well as skills to become a successful chef.
Michael Anthony at the Gramercy Tavern is also one of my mentors. Working with him gave me lots of insight in not only how to become a great chef, but to effectively run a kitchen and manage staff.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
My passion was to combine techniques that I've learned at the Culinary Institute of America with the know how passed down through generations of my family. I wanted to make food that everyone could enjoy while consistently integrating my Korean roots.
Galbi is a great example. Traditionally, the beef short ribs are prepared by braising it in a soy sauce broth. I however, like to marinate the beef in soy sauce for a day, then grill it to be served. I designed our Galbi with Truffle mashed potato which familiarized our customers to enjoy Korean traditional dishes with an Americanized fusion style.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
Since cooking is my passion, I'm blessed to be able to do what I love for a living. Learning to work with all different kinds of people, creating fresh and innovating dishes, and building relationships with staff and customers are very rewarding. My most distinguishing features are actually displayed on my menu. I tried to show my versatility as much as possible, with dishes like the French inspired Creamy Seafood Stew, to the American influenced Burger, to even desserts such as Green Tea Cheesecake. I want my customers to know that I can do it all, and I can do it well.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal would probably be Korean BBQ with meats such as Samgyupsal(Pork Belly), Galbi(Short Ribs), and Woosamgyup (Beef Belly). These are the types of food that I want to introduce to the world in a more convenient way. It can also be simply and deliciously prepared right in the kitchen. I want my customers to enjoy Korean BBQ just the way I enjoyed it when I was growing up.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
Zusik is where you can feel like you are in Seoul, Korea whilst being in New York City. We offer three different menus, Lunch, Brunch, and Dinner, with three different styles of Korean cuisine approach. For lunch, you can find a more traditional approach to Korean food, with classics like Soondoobu (Soft Tofu Stew) and Dwenjang (Bean Paste Stew). For Brunch (only served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM - 4 PM) I fused the classic American breakfast with a twist of Korean flair with offerings like the Korean Rice Wine Pancakes, Twisted French Toast, and Chicken Sandwich. Finally, , you can experience a fusion frenzy of Tapa style dishes like Beef Roulade, seared Tuna, and my famous Beef Short Ribs for dinner.
Accompanied by a full bar, I hope to share my passion of food and drinks with all of New York City and beyond.
Zusik is located at 202 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10011. For menus, hours of operation, and more information, visit https://www.zusikny.com/ or call 646.370.5331. You can also e-mail email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chef Yurum Nam and Zusik