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Garde-manger: Hayeon Park

Meet Hayeon Park, Solbam's Garde-manger, who believes that living a fulfilling life means embracing challenges and pursuing your passions.

How did you get into cooking?

My journey into cooking began back in elementary school, sparked by my fascination with cooking shows and cartoons. It was just something that naturally intrigued me. Growing up in a family that owned a restaurant also played a significant role, making the kitchen environment feel like a second home. Initially, I leaned towards baking and pursued it as a profession, but as I delved deeper, I realized that my passion lay more in the realm of cooking. So, I shifted my focus accordingly.

Is there a noticeable contrast between pastry making and cooking?

Absolutely. Pastry making demands meticulous planning and precision right from the start. The success or failure of a pastry dish is often determined before it even enters the oven. On the other hand, cooking offers more flexibility and room for adjustment until the final moments. While both require thorough preparation and skill, cooking allows for a bit more spontaneity and personal touch, which resonated better with my style and made the process more enjoyable.

Could you share your career journey thus far?

Certainly. After completing my studies, I embarked on my professional journey at Terreno, a prestigious Michelin one-star Spanish restaurant. There, I gained invaluable experience in Spanish cuisine, honing my skills in ingredient handling and sauce making. Working in a smaller team within a compact kitchen space provided a holistic understanding of kitchen operations and the importance of teamwork. It taught me that while individual excellence is crucial, collective effort is what truly drives a kitchen forward. Following that, I sought to broaden my expertise in a more intimate setting, leading me to the wine bar Sav Seoul under the guidance of Chef Taesung Kim. Here, I encountered a diverse clientele and learned to adapt to the unique pace and style of bistro cooking. Crafting pasta became a significant part of my routine, offering insights into kitchen dynamics and menu evolution in single-serving establishments. Unlike the seasonal changes common in fine dining, I witnessed how signature menus evolve gradually over time, enriching my understanding of kitchen operations and customer preferences.

How did you end up joining Solbam?

Personally, I felt the urge to delve back into the world of fine dining while still in my younger years. I was also deeply drawn to Solbam's unwavering passion. It's widely regarded as one of the most fervent establishments in Seoul, both in terms of food and service. Joining them, I saw an opportunity for personal growth while contributing to their dynamic team. Returning to fine dining, I found myself engrossed in the daily creation of new sauces and meticulous attention to detail.

What are your responsibilities at Solbam?

I've been with Solbam for about a season now, primarily handling guard duty. My day typically begins with meticulous planning, setting the stage for seamless operations. During service hours, Chef Soussou and I collaborate in the drawing room, meticulously crafting four exquisite dishes for our guests. Once the guests have been attended to, we transition back to the main kitchen to wrap up operations.

What was the most challenging moment you faced at Solbam?

My initial days at Solbam were fraught with challenges as I acclimated to my role, resulting in several mistakes. One particularly memorable incident involved inadvertently breaking a mold while preparing a meticulously crafted sauce, necessitating a complete redo. There were also days when the entire team had to endure late meals due to unforeseen circumstances. It was tough knowing I had inconvenienced my colleagues, but I persevered, driven by a desire to improve and learn from my mistakes. Despite the difficulties, I find joy in the process of personal growth and development.

What brings you joy in working at Solbam?

I would describe the essence of Solbam as "passion and ambition." Chef Eom Tae-joon exudes a profound passion for his craft, and his dedication resonates throughout the establishment. The team exhibits an insatiable hunger for perfection, meticulously tending to even the smallest details. While the journey is challenging, I find immense satisfaction in witnessing my skills evolve amidst the demanding environment. Each hurdle I overcome brings me closer to the realization that my efforts contribute to something greater. It's the continuous pursuit of excellence and personal advancement that truly defines the joy of working at Solbam.


What are your aspirations for 2024?

My hopes for 2024 revolve around personal growth, both in my culinary skills and in other aspects of my life. I aim to utilize my time effectively, dedicating myself to honing my cooking abilities while also nurturing my personal development. Additionally, I'm passionate about maintaining and improving my blog. As a hobby, I'm deeply enamored with Japanese culture and language, and I'm committed to achieving certification in Japanese proficiency. Balancing these pursuits alongside my culinary endeavors is paramount. Ultimately, I aspire to not only excel in my craft but also to foster positive influence within my team.

What motivates you?

I draw inspiration from the philosophy of embracing life's challenges and seizing opportunities for growth. There isn't a single individual who serves as my sole inspiration; rather, it's the idea of living a life where I can continuously challenge myself and pursue my passions. Whether it's embarking on new adventures, embracing change, or pushing boundaries, I find fulfillment in the pursuit of what ignites my enthusiasm. This pursuit often requires endurance and courage, but it's through these challenges that I gain clarity about my aspirations and cultivate the courage to pursue them. In the near future, I dream of spending a month living abroad, particularly in Japan. The allure of immersing myself in Japanese language and culture greatly appeals to me. While it's not yet a concrete plan, I hold onto the idea of embarking on such fulfilling challenges with happiness and anticipation.


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