Bibimbap 비빔밥

Bibimbap, literally meaning “mixed rice,” a very popular dish in Korea, is prepared with steamed white rice, beef, and vegetables, topped with a fried sunny-side-up egg and spicy red chili paste, called gochujang. It’s one of the dishes that Chefs Guillas & Oliver hoped would  propel them to the number one spot at the Top Chef Korean Food Challenge.

Three teams of two non-Korean chefs randomly chose six traditional Korean dishes which were to be prepared in 30 minutes. Host Cathlyn Choi then provided a Magic Basket, containing traditional Korean ingredients that the chefs were required to incorporate into their dish. As one of six food bloggers along with three other esteemed judges, it was my absolute pleasure to attend this event earlier in the month in San Diego, California.


bibimbap – beef & mixed vegetable rice with fried egg
tuk bokki – spicy rice cake with vegetables
galbi jim – braised short rib stew
dak galbi – spicy stir-fried chicken
gu jeol pan – royal nine section pan with meat, vegetables, and thin wheat pancakes
kimchi – fermented cabbage


This Top Chef Competition is a part of  [buzzKOREA], a global campaign organized to introduce the brilliance of Korean culture and to share the secrets of the great hidden cuisine of Korea. Korean food is honestly the undiscovered jewel of Asian cooking.


Foodies, bloggers, restaurateurs, and chefs gather to photograph the beginning of the
Top Chef Korean Food Challenge.


Javier Plascencia & Adria Montano – Villa Saverios, Tijuana, BC
Bernard Guillas & Ron Oliver – Marine Room, La Jolla, CA
Brian Hirsty & Graham Norton – Bluewater Grill, Tustin, CA

Chefs Plascencia & Montano
Challenge: Galbi Jim & Dak Galbi

Host Cathlyn Choi checks in with Plascencia & Montano during their 30 minute time slot.

Galbi Jim  갈비찜
braised short rib stew

Dak Galbi  닭갈비
spicy stir-fried chicken

Galbi Jim presented on bowls with banana leaf.
Dak Galbi presented in glass shots topped with deep-fried sesame leaf.

Montano also prepares an alternative presentation, for her dak galbi, in wooden cubes.


Barbara Hansen – Food Editor, LA Weekly
James Kyson Lee – Actor, Heroes
Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee – Author, quick & easy Korean Cooking


Judges score each dish on a scale of one to five for originality, taste, and presentation.


Veronica @ Wine & Dine
Lori Lynn @ Taste With The Eyes
Anita @ Diary of  Mad Hungry Woman
not pictured:
Jenn @ Just Jenn Recipes
Krissy @ The Food Addicts
Fiona @ Gourmet Pigs

Chefs Guillas & Oliver
Challenge: Bibimbap & Tuk Bokki

Oliver plates tuk bokki.

Guillas plates his deconstructed bibimbap. In addition to the traditional rice, he has added barley, then flavored the rice/barley with a generous dusting of aromatic fennel pollen.

Bibimbap   비빔밥
Double Yolk – a sign of good luck for the Guillas & Oliver team?
Here, Guillas’ bibimbap is cooked in a stone pot,
which forms a desirable crispy rice crust on the bottom of the pot.

(reconstructing the dish at home in a form suitable for dramatic presentation)

The traditional way to enjoy bibimbap is to vigorously mix all the ingredients with chopsticks. The egg yolk flavors and binds the vegetable, beef, and rice mixture while the spicy red sauce, gochujang, is incorporated throughout.


The competition heats up!

Tuk Bokki   떡볶이
spicy rice cake with vegetables

Tuk Bokki is a popular Korean snack food commonly purchased from street vendors.
Kudos to Chef Oliver for his very photogenic plating and presentation of this dish!

Cathlyn Choi with Hirsty & Norton ready to film their segment.
Challenge : Kimchi & Gujeolpan

Kimchi   김치
fermented cabbage
Hirsty & Nortons’s Kimchi Salad

Gujeolpan   구절판

Gujeolpan, meaning “nine section pan” is an exquisite royal dish traditionally served on an octagonal platter, prepared with eight separate meat and vegetable offerings plus delicate crepe-like pancakes called miljeonbyeong. Diners place any combination of the meat and vegetables into the small pancake, and roll or fold to enjoy. Korean tacos are a hot new menu item, now globally paired with Mexican cuisine…what’s very old is new again. And worth celebrating.

Prizes include $100o, round trip airfare to Korea, plus other promotional items.


Chefs Plascencia & Montano share that their version of Korean Food (Hansik)
was inspired by Mexican street foods.

Chefs Guillas & Oliver explain their choice to incorporate some non-traditional ingredients to personalize their dishes. For example, bibimbap was flavored with fennel pollen and tuk bokki was garnished with colorful Japanese rice crackers.

Judge for Yourself!

Airs in California on April 7, 2011 @ 9 PM on KOCE
A TV schedule by city can be found here.

Vote @ [buzzKOREA]

Who will be the winner? There are two opportunities for the chefs to win Top Chef Korean Food Challenge. The first was in San Diego at the live event in February where the food was tasted by the 9 judges. The second opportunity is online voting in the month of March. Voters cast a vote through buzz-Korea for their favorite chefs based on reading blog posts and viewing photographs of the competition.


Inspired by all the fabulous Korean ingredients and Chef Plascencia’s Galbi Jim, I rushed home from San Diego to create my own dish using authentic ingredients such as gingko nuts, dried jujube, and chestnuts. Galbi Jim is a popular feast dish, often enjoyed on New Year’s Day. We loved the combination of the red dates, shiitakes, daikon and chestnuts in the stew. The ginkgo nuts added a curious bitter counterpart, semi-crunchy texture and unique yellow-green color. The sauce was simultaneously earthy, sweet and savory. It was an extraordinary dish! The recipe was posted on February 18, here.



Extending a special thank you for including Taste With The Eyes in this Top Chef event. Your mission to introduce the uninitiated to Korean Cuisine has been more than successful here. I have fallen head-over-heels for Hansik, and plan to share my discoveries of traditional Korean dishes and Korean fusion cooking along the way.

Korean Fusion Cooking
my kimchi pizza: rice cake ovalets, gochujang sauce, radish sprouts

Thank You: Korea Ministry of Tourism, ibuzz,,
Gina Lee, Jin Kim, Cathlyn Choi, fellow Bloggers, Judges, and Chefs.


35 thoughts on “Please Join Me in Judging TOP CHEF KOREAN FOOD CHALLENGE”

  1. How neat that you got to be a judge at this incredible challenge! And learning about all these delicious Korean specialties must have been amazing! A terrific experience, thank you so much for sharing with us!

  2. WOW what an incredible experience. I watch iron chef on TV quite often and have always wondered how hard it must be for the judges to be scoring so many dishes one after the other … don’t thte taste buds get a little mixed up? Or are th dishes presented at a slightly slower pace in real life?

    1. Hi Chris – it’s slow! What you see on my blog post is a capture of six hours of filming and preparation. But it truly was a terrific experience!

  3. OMG! Your Kimchi pizza looks phenomenal… how come you have all the details and snap photos… It’s really impressive, Lori…

    1. Hi Jin – I’ve been shopping at Market World, a Korean supermarket here in Torrance. One day they were giving samples of kimchi pizza and I was hooked. Bought all the ingredients and made my own, radish sprouts and gochujang were my addition, and it came out great!

      Thanks again for everything. See you soon I hope!

  4. You have me scouting around to see if I can find Korean barbecue in the Twin Cities. What luscious food – and so artful! How grand Lori Lynn to be a part of this. I can just see you rushing home to recreate…

  5. Such an incredible experience, the sights and smell of authentic Korean food!
    Thank you for sharing it!

    My husband and I enjoyed many a great Korean meal at the “Woo Lae Oak of Seoul”, located on S. Joyce Street in Crystal City, Virginia, just across the Potomac from Washington, DC. I especially loved the little side dishes that came with certain entrees. Their bulgogi was outstanding, the meat served raw, but marinated, then grilled at the table.

    Sadly, they are closed now. I wonder what happened to the beautiful, low-slung, wood and glass building that houses the restaurant. I shall always remember sitting by the tall windows, feeling transported to a different world.

  6. what an amazing event!! so happy your were able to be a part of it…every dish looks marvelous, I enjoyed viewing the pictures…how fun!!


  7. What an experience!! We are nuts for home made kimchee since we hosted a Korean student who could not really enjoy a meal without it? It is a great healthy habit! You are amazing!

  8. Ooo, what a great event. I’m especially intrigued by your bibimbap pic – I’ve been hearing a lot about the dish, and would be interested in making a beef-free version…

  9. How exciting, LL – I haven’t experimented with Korean cuisine in my cooking, but I love kimchee and the Korean restaurants in Orange County! And you met my friend, Anita Lau 🙂

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