Today, grocers aren't merely just food providers, they're often purveyors of food culture.
With Korean movies and music–Gangnam style by Korean rapper PSY having gone viral recently–hotter than ever, especially among non-Koreans, it's not a surprise that Korean food has also gained popularity in the mainstream population.
Knowing this, one of Canada's leading ethnic grocers, Korean grocer Galleria Supermarket, held its first annual Korean cooking contest for non-Koreans at its York Mills branch last Friday to raise awareness of Korean food and culture.
"We are not just a supermarket, but a an ambassador for Korean culture," said Jeffrey Min, owner of Galleria Supermarket.
Among 30 entries to the competition, sponsored by Liberterre, eight were selected to compete, consisting of three men and five women.
Each contestant had to create two dishes; the first one was the classic Korean side dish, kimchi (pickled spicy cabbage); the second was a creative dish using kimchi as one ingredient.
The judging panelists included: Luis Londono (director of LiberTerre Meat;, Jina Choi (head chef, Galleria Supermarket); Paul Hwang (food journalist, Korea Times Daily); Amy Rosen (Chatelaine food editor); and Nancy Kwon (managing editor, Canadian Grocer).
All the judges were impressed by the talented group of competitors, and were impressed by the various dishes created.
First prize went to Phyllis Au-Yeung for her mixed rice dish with pork and vegetables, who won a $300 gift certificate to Galleria; second prize won $200; third prize $100.