I WAS BORN and raised in Jeonju, a city famous for traditional Korean cuisine. Our region has plenty of clean, flowing water and access to high-quality ingredients. And because my immediate family was responsible for our relatives’ ancestral rites, we prepared big family dinners more than 10 times a year.

My mom was a very good cook, and my dad worked for a global trading company. He’d bring home baking tools from all over the world, which my mom would experiment with. Whenever she cooked, I helped out.

When I entered middle school,

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