Actual Koreans gave their takes on a recent Bon Appétit kimchi tutorial video featuring a white chef, and they weren’t too happy.
Two mother-daughter pairs, Hyera and her daughter Fin, and Michelle and her daughter Vivian, watched the outlet’s tutorial as part of a video for Bad Appetite Magazine, a Facebook page that calls out instances of cultural appropriation in food. Bon Appétit’s video had drawn a flood of criticism from many in the Asian-American community for failing to tap an actual Korean chef for the tutorial instead of the outlet’s test kitchen manager, Brad Leone.
According to the pairs, Leone didn’t quite pass with flying colors.
“There’s a lot of different ways to make kimchi. But this doesn’t look particularly tasty,” Michelle says in Bad Appetite’s video.
But Hyera mentions, laughing, that she “didn’t expect that much,” anyway.
In the Bad Appetite video, the four women critique Leone’s technique. While Leone massages his cabbage, Hyera definitely does not recommend doing so. And though Leone’s mixture has an orange shade to it, kimchi is supposed to look more vibrantly red.
Among the women’s many criticisms was Leone’s failure to honor the traditional, ethnic dish.
“Would I like to see a little more humility and maybe a few references to where he got this kimchi information? Yes. Do I think it’s bad that he’s making kimchi and making videos about it? No,” Vivian says. “If there was a little more respect and a little more acknowledgment of where this is coming from, I wouldn’t be rooting for him to fail.”
After all, for both mother-daughter pairs, kimchi is much more than a fermented food. The dish is deeply intertwined with their culture, evoking fond memories.
“Koreans think of kimchi with a great sense of pride. From the time we were very young, when we had nothing and we lived with nothing, we had kimchi,” Michelle says in the video. “Even though we couldn’t put as many ingredients into it back then, kimchi still fed three of us kids three times a day.”
Bon Appétit has stirred up controversy in the past for positioning white chef Tyler Akin as an authority on pho and touting the traditional Vietnamese soup as the next food trend.
“When you present ethnic food this way by a white man, you offend the Vietnamese community and deprive them of their own right to be authentic and maintain their identity,” Dr. Bich-Ngoc Turner, lecturer of Vietnamese language and literature at the University of Washington, told HuffPost of the incident.