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Not your ajumma's kimchi

Kimchi crossover by chefs in Chicago restaurants and the inaugural Good Food Festival Kimchi Challenge

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Kimchi is the new pickle! Fermentation is the new canning! So the food trend forecasters say. But in Chicago, we’ve been putting up and down for years. And at Saturday’s inaugural Kimchi Challenge at the Good Food Festival & Conference which kicks off three days starting today, fermentation revivalist and author of The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz himself, will crown our first Kimchi Champion.


Our best known Korean crossover chef Bill Kim has created a kimchi kingdom with Urban Belly, Belly Shack, and bellyQ. And Will Song, chef/owner of bopNgrill slings Korea’s traditional national dish on burgers and fries.

But even non-Korean, non-Asian chefs here have been dipping into kimchi jars. Red Door chef and veteran Troy Graves learned to make kimchi from a barracks-mate, and Paul Kahan has upped the game using ramps, our native namesake wild stinking onion.

I’m one of the judges at the Kimchi Challenge and have promised to smuggle back samples to WBEZ. And don’t worry, they won’t be forgotten in the office fridge.

Follow Louisa Chu on Twitter.

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