Will new culinary program spice up TV?
By Han Sang-hee
Cable channel KBS N Joy is airing a culinary competition based on Korea's favorite sauce: gochujang, or hot red pepper paste.
Titled ``Cooking Olympic Gochujang,'' the show will offer a stage for contestants to show off their cooking skills and compete for the grand prize of 10 million won. There's only one catch: they must use the spicy paste in their recipes.
Local channels have been struggling to bring something new to the table with culinary shows over the years, for television can be a great way to advertise Korean food, or ``hansik," if effective. There have been documentaries, contests, reality shows and dramas, but nothing has really captivated foreign taste buds.
One of the problems would be trying out too many things at once. Korean food is hard for those not acquainted with it to follow many different recipes at the same time, or in this case, the same show. KBS' documentary ``Noodle Road'' (2008) proved that food programs are not about the number and variety of recipes, but the quality and also the art of concentration. It drew attention by focusing on one specific menu _ noodles _ and eventually won a Peabody Award.
Instead of showing numerous main ingredients and overwhelming viewers, keep it simple and don't be greedy, a producer from the documentary once said. Focusing on gochujang, and that alone, will hopefully be a good experiment and eventually create a guideline in producing well-made and effective food shows.
``I'm happy and honored to host the show as the main MC but I wasn't so sure if people could come up with different recipes using gochujang. The filming of a few episodes proved me wrong and I'm looking forward to a more exciting ride,'' singer and actor Alex said during a press conference in Nonhyeon-dong, Monday.
The 32-year-old will work as a mentor with chef Yang Ji-hun, and help viewers learn and understand the various ways to cook with gochujang. The two will be joined by actor Seo Ji-seok and model Kim Jeong-min as co-hosts.
This is not the first time for Alex to appear on a show about food. He was previously on ``Republic of Korea, Cook'' and ``Mr. Babsang,'' but he said that he will be meaner this time.
``The show is a survival game, so I'll have to say scarier things to contestants. Please understand because I might lose my usual soft image and turn into a mean and intense host,'' he said laughing.
The overall goal of the show is to discover various ways to incorporate the traditional spicy sauce in new dishes and present it to the public. The contestants will be evaluated on their overall performance: from choosing their ingredients to the cooking process and the final finishing touches.
``Cooking Olympic Gochujang'' starts airing on July 2 at 9:40 a.m.