One look through Juno Kim’s Instagram proves he’s more than just a great cook, but a true designer. Without any formal culinary training, Juno changed gears six years ago, leaving his job in luxury fashion with a goal to start bringing people experiences, rather than things. Collaborating with chefs and businesses throughout the city, Juno began to throw “multi-sensory” pop-up meals, bringing community together through his colourful, multi-course meals. His second career in food styling quickly followed suit.
“I started food styling by accident, really. People in my network recommended me to someone who needed help, and then the referral game took over. Now it’s a focus of ours that continually inspires us.”
“I grew up eating traditional Korean food. My mom was a pretty great cook but I took our home cooked meals for granted. As I get older, I definitely look back with a lot of appreciation and gratitude. I think when I first started cooking, I didn’t want to be typecast as an Asian cook, so I cooked in a strictly Western style. I’m finding I’m incorporating more and more Asian flavours and ingredients into my cooking as I evolve. Now, I look at my style of cooking as a reflection of the city I call home. It’s Western, but there are so many cultural influences from all over the world, creating a new unique perspective.”
Focussing on local, ethically sourced ingredients, Juno’s dishes are colourful and imaginative, using both rare and everyday foods in unique, playful ways.
“[I’m inspired by] everything. Throughout my life and my post-secondary education, my experiences, interests, and studies have always been multi-disciplinary; the intersections of different perspectives is what drives my vision. I also find restrictions can be conducive to creativity, and so, focusing on ingredients that are fresh, local and seasonal is what guides my decision making. The temporal aspect of obtaining a certain ingredient at its peak quality is very fascinating.”
Juno’s work is now split into two, his eponymous catering company, as well as styling for TV, film and print media.
“When styling, context is everything. The way we style depends on so many factors, such as the lens and camera being used, the intended medium, the target audience, etc. Our favourite part of film and TV work is that it takes away the ego from our work. Our job is to reflect the storytelling of the writers and the vision of the director and producers, which doesn’t necessarily mean we’re making food that we think highlights our skills at all times.”
So we asked Juno, what are his three keys to create a beautiful dish?
“1) Plan ahead and be organized. A variety of complementary shapes, sizes and colours can help make a dish special, and your foresight will help your design develop with intention.
2) Use odd numbers. For some reason, our brains perceive odd numbers to be prettier than even numbers. But there are always exceptions to the rule.
3) Showcase the natural beauty of the food. Over manipulating an ingredient can be counter-productive, especially when you’re using quality ingredients.”
Juno Kim is a Vancouver-based chef, caterer, and food stylist, known for his multi-sensory pop-up meals and events.