ARTIST INTERVIEW: Saehee Cho of SOO N Food
SOO N is a new food concept grounded in both seasonal and carefully curated menus as well as an on-going artistic engagement with all things culinary. We spoke to founder Saehee Cho about her background and creative process.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
While I was at Calarts I started a small catering company. It was on a practical level, a way to fund an expensive graduate school education and on a more romantic level, it was a different way for me to engage with my Calarts affiliated peers and friends. I got to feed people I loved and respected on weekly basis and it felt like a really special time.
After school I left the catering company to get some real kitchen experience and later to work for Clare V. for a number of foundational years. Watching Clare’s remarkable business grow in those beginning years was a singular experience and I don’t think I could have started SOO N without that example to look up to. In many ways SOO N is the combination of lessons learned from both the initial catering company and Clare V.
For me, SOO N is a cultural/social/aesthetic engagement with food and people, which is to say that the best part of food is the opportunity to feed and nourish the people around you with meaningful food.
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
Yes absolutely, California produce is the most exciting medium to work with. In Los Angeles, any day of the week you can find a farmer’s market within a reasonable distance — the accessibility to real produce has an enormous impact on the food I make.
I think food inevitably tastes better when the cook treats their ingredients as precious. It’s that magical thing–why someone’s toast tastes better than another’s. I work in small batches and relatively low volume since I’m not operating as a restaurant so I get the luxury of personally buying every ingredient I use. Every carrot, fingerling potato, and peach gets selected and acknowledged in my kitchen and think that’s kind of a special thing.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
1. Mandolin Slicer
I use this daily.
I have a refrigerator just for butter and eggs.
3. Copper Pots
I was gifted a pair of Mauviel copper pots and I make all my jams in them. They conduct heat in such a way that the consistency of the jam turns out perfect.