A Rising Star
For the majority of Jiyeon Lee’s life, she has been in the public spotlight. In the 1980s, she became a fashion icon after a popular Korean magazine discovered the then 16-year-old and launched the young model’s career. Not long after, and while still in high school, Lee signed with an agency that trained her in music, dance, and vocals. The result was a chart-topping, ten-song album release and instant stardom. It was as if Jiyeon had the Midas touch and that her star was on the rise. But what followed next was a journey she describes as ‘tumultuous.’ After enduring suffocating popularity and bouts of depression, Jiyeon exited the spotlight, got married, and relocated to Atlanta in search of a fresh start to carve out a new direction for her life.
Atlanta was an easy buy-in for Chef Lee. The city is a brilliant melting pot of world cultures and exceptional cuisine. Equipped with an artistic mindset and a background in gardening and cooking, a determined Lee navigated the metropolis through language barriers, marriage difficulties, and financial hardship. Determined to embark on a creative culinary arts career, Chef Lee, known to some as Chef JiJi completed instruction at Le Cordon Bleu and set her sights on creating a new destination for Southern BBQ. She wanted to include her native Korean flavors and also to incorporate farm-fresh ingredients. With the popularity of her restaurant, Heirloom Market BBQ, it is apparent she has successfully discovered her niche.
Since leaving the pop star lifestyle in the past, Chef Lee and her partner, Cody Taylor, have created such a demand for their Korean and BBQ fusion that, in 2013, the Department of Transportation advised their eatery to remove its indoor seating, in hopes that having fewer patrons parked for dining would ease nearby traffic congestion. Lee is more pleased with the success of Heirloom Market than any of her four number one albums or her musical performance at the 1988 Olympics. Her hope is that her journey and career will inspire others to follow their personal passions, even if it means making a fresh start. It seems that Chef Jiyeon Lee was always destined to become a star and that only her trajectory has changed.
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Spicy Korean Pork Sliders
Yield: 12 Sliders
For 2 lbs. of ½ inch cubed pork loin:
½ cup of Gochujang (fermented Korean red pepper paste)
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. minced ginger
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
¼ cup of Mae Ploy (sweet chili sauce)
1 tbsp. sriracha sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil (optional)
In a medium mixing bowl, combine cubed pork loin, Gochujang, garlic, ginger, black pepper, and soy sauce until all ingredients are well mixed. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.
In a medium-sized pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and marinade into the pot, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and keep stirring as to not burn the gochujang.
Next, add the Mae Ploy and sriracha and continue to stir over low heat for 20 minutes.
Finish with the sesame oil and serve hot. Garnish with sesame seeds.
1 lb. sliced cabbage
½ cup of julienned carrot
¼ cup of coarse Gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes)
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
¼ cup of water
3 tbsp. white vinegar
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, omitting the cabbage and carrot. Whisk until smooth and set aside for half an hour. Add the cabbage and carrot and mix thoroughly.
Place 12 of your favorite slider buns or standard buns on a platter, top with warm Spicy Korean Pork and Kimchi Slaw. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. Pro Tip: our BBQ Collection includes everything you need to serve this dish!
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