We are sharing the story of our Pâtissier Jonghyun Moon, who envisions creating an exceptional brand in the future through his dedication to perfecting both dessert and cooking.
How did you get started in the culinary world?
My journey into cooking began quite late in my life. Up until my sophomore year in high school, I had my sights set on a career in baseball. However, due to some practical issues, I had to step away from baseball, and I found myself at a crossroads. I was unsure about my future and began contemplating my options. It was during this time that I stumbled upon a cookbook and developed an interest in the culinary arts. This newfound passion led me to enroll in a culinary program at university.
I didn't grow up dreaming of becoming a chef, and I wasn't as prepared for it as some others might have been. After giving it a try, I realized that my initial excitement wasn't as long-lasting as I had expected. So, I continued to wander through my college years and eventually ended up joining the military. This decision turned out to be a significant turning point in my culinary journey. Whether I liked it or not, I had to prepare meals for a team of three that served 1,000 troops daily. This experience reduced my uncertainties and made me feel a sense of responsibility through cooking. It became a source of enjoyment and meaning in my life.
Upon completing my military service, I began taking cooking seriously. After finishing my studies, I applied for a job at Alla Prima, a Michelin two-star restaurant, where I worked for a year and eight months. While many of my friends were choosing to learn and work in different culinary genres, I had a unique approach. What mattered most to me was the opportunity to learn from the chef I was working with. After experiencing the unique and creative combinations of ingredients at Alla Prima, I was deeply moved. It was there that I realized I wanted to learn how to cook in such an innovative way.
What did you learn during your first job?
Initially, I didn't set out to work in the pastry department. It happened rather serendipitously. The chef suggested that I start in the pastry section because there was an opening there. I saw it as a good chance to learn and contribute in some way, so I spent eight months working in the pastry section. Over the course of a year, I built my career by creating experimental and imaginative dishes, focusing on combining various ingredients from a fresh perspective, instead of simply recreating classical recipes while working in pastry.
What led you to join Solbam?
Originally, I had planned to leave my first job, take a break, and even go to Australia to broaden my horizons. However, I was introduced to Solbam and decided to dine there. I was deeply impressed by the uniqueness of Solbam. Not only was the food delicious, but I also observed the dedication of the employees. They all seemed to be working with clear goals and energy, and I could feel the passion from the chef. I realized that there was something valuable to learn here, and that's why I ended up joining the team.
What are your responsibilities at Solbam now?
Currently, I'm in charge of creating the scones, which are the final course at Solbam. Additionally, I provide assistance in various aspects of the dessert section.
What do you find captivating about pastry work?
When it comes to desserts, precision is paramount. Achieving perfection down to the last detail, where everything is neat and precise, brings immense satisfaction. Even a small difference of just 1 gram can significantly impact the outcome of a dessert. I vividly remember developing a dessert centered around lavender and coconut, and I dedicated countless hours to refining it, often working late into the night. Back then, I didn't find it burdensome; I was completely absorbed in the process. I didn't realize that I was continuously referencing other recipes, conducting research, and making gradual changes. Ultimately, the greatest joy comes when you can successfully express the desired flavors.
I'm currently intrigued by unconventional ingredients in desserts, much like in cooking. While sugar, flour, and butter are excellent, there's a sense of pleasure in exploring the possibilities of ingredients like kelp and perilla oil, and creating something entirely new. I've crafted kelp gelato and perilla oil jam, and recently, I've been experimenting with oolong tea gelato, sparking a multitude of creative ideas along the way.
What's it like working at Solbam?
One of the standout aspects of working at Solbam is the clear leadership of Chef Eom. When you take a seat at Solbam, you'll notice a story about Solbam and a card displaying the names of all the employees. Scanning a QR code lets you read about the thoughts and experiences of each team member, including my own. I was deeply impressed by this approach. It's not easy to be a leader who truly values every employee, but the results show that this philosophy is put into practice here.
Additionally, I find that the colleagues I work with maintain a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives. While we sometimes push ourselves to the limit while working, it doesn't negatively affect our personal relationships. There's an atmosphere of trust and collaboration, which alleviates a lot of stress.
What are your future aspirations?
For now, my primary focus is on adapting quickly and continuous growth. Working in the dessert section, I want to learn as much as I can here and refine my skills. I'm always in the process of honing my culinary abilities. Looking further ahead, I aspire to establish a notable brand alongside a close friend of mine. My friend specializes in marketing and branding, and together, we aim to develop our expertise in the food and dessert industry, working toward building a new F&B brand. The specific ideas and plans are constantly evolving and developing.