One of the most male-dominated industries in the world is slowly but surely promoting diversity and inclusivity. Embodying this was Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants‘ introduction of The Best Female Chef Award in 2013. 

Korean-born Cho Hee-sook will receive the title at this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony, which will take place in Japan’s Saga Prefecture on the 24th of March. The award stems from the 50 Best organisation’s mission to honour seminal figures who have made a positive impact on Asia’s restaurant scene. 

Currently, Cho is Chef-Owner of one Michelin-starred Hansikgonggan in Seoul. The restaurant specialises in centuries-old dishes dating back to the Joseon dynasty (the 1300s to the late 1800s). 

Chef Cho Hee-sook Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2020
(Image Credit: Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants)

Cho’s impressive career spans working as Executive Chef at the South Korean embassy in Washington D.C., U.S.A., and forwarding the fields of culinary and ingredient research as a professor at Woosong University.

She is frequently lauded as the godmother of Korean cuisine, having educated a younger generation of chefs –including Chef Mingoo Kang of Seoul-based restaurant Mingles— about the country’s unique culinary traditions and recipes. 

Hansikgonggan Seoul
The interior of Hansikgonggan in Seoul. (Image Credit: Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants)

On selecting Cho as this year’s recipient of the prize, William Drew, Director of Content at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, says, “The Best Female Chef award celebrates female chefs whose dedication, skills and creativity set new standards in gastronomic excellence. Cho Hee-sook epitomises the spirit of this award with her lifelong commitment to advancing Korean cuisine through training, education and mentorship.”

Recent awardees include Chef May Chow from Hong Kong (2017) as well as Chefs Bongkoch ‘Bee’ Satongun (2018) and Garima Arora (2019) from Thailand.

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.

Jocelyn Tan
Writer
Jocelyn Tan is a travel and design writer. She's probably indulging in serial killer podcasts or reading one too many books on East Asian history. When she actually gets to travel, you can find her attempting to stuff her entire wardrobe into her luggage. Yes, she's a chronic over-packer.