When the third season of Chef’s Table was released and audiences worldwide were introduced to monk-chef Jeong Kwan, foodies near and far began to ask: Where is that stunning temple featured on the show? And since Jeong Kwan doesn’t operate a restaurant, how is it possible to taste what she cooks?
Baekyangsa (Chunjinam Hermitage), the temple featured in the episode, is located within Naejangsan National Park in the Jeollanamdo region of South Korea. For those without a car, it is approximately three hours by train and taxi from Seoul. A visit to the temple costs 3000 won to enter, but if you are seriously interested in learning more about Jeong Kwan’s mastery and temple cuisine, you can also sign up for an overnight temple-stay at Baekyangsa entitled “Experience of original Temple food and Culture with Monk.” The 150,000-won program includes learning Buddhist manners, meditation, sweeping the yard and experiencing temple food with Jeong Kwan herself.
Those unable to make the trek to Naejangsan, can take classes at the Korea Temple Food Center (KTF) located in the heart of Seoul. There are a handful of classes taught every month by highly-experienced chef-monks and a special hour-and-a-half-long class for non-Korean speakers on Saturdays. If you insist on taking the Korean language class that Jeong Kwan is teaching, you should check the KTF’s schedule of events. The November 2017 session, for instance, is held every Thursday from 10am to 12pm, involves making three different meals and costs 110,000 won for three sessions.
Moroccan-American Alia Al Kasimi, who got interested in Jeong Kwan after watching the show, signed up for classes at KTF not even realising that the celebrity monk would be her teacher. Despite not being fluent in Korean, Alia describes Jeong Kwan as incredibly humble and funny. “She even made us dance to increase our energy before cooking!"