Sang Yoon Biography
Sang Yoon is a restaurateur, chef and culinary trendsetter. He launched a casual-food craze in California's fine-dining industry as the owner of Father's Office and he has introduced new flavors in Southeast Asian cuisine with Lukshon, his newest restaurant. Yoon's creation, the "Office Burger", has been hailed as the country's best burger by the TODAY show and Esquire magazine and Yoon has been profiled as a craft beer expert in USA Today, Food + Wine magazine and National Public Radio.
Yoon began his epicurean career path when he was a teenager in the kitchens of Jeremiah Tower (Stars restaurant) and Julian Serrano (Masa's) before attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After graduation, he took an externship with Chef Gray Kunz at the award-winning Lespinasse restaurant in New York and earned a coveted apprenticeship at the Michelin three-star Jamin restaurant under French Master Chef Joel Robuchon.
After working at the coveted Chinois on Main with celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck, Yoon landed his first executive chef position at Michael's.
In 2000, Yoon took a departure from fine dining and began renovating his favorite local dive bar in Santa Monica, Father's Office, where he sought to reinterpret the simple, flavorful dishes found in the European bars he enjoyed and where the food menu would be designed to complement the drink menu. Father's Office trail-blazed the gastropub movement in L.A. and beyond and has been nationally praised for its signature craft brew selection of over 55 local and small-batch varieties.
Yoon opened a second location in 2008 entitled Father's Office 2.0 on the landmark Helms Avenue Walk in Culver City. February 2011 marked Sang Yoon's return to fine dining with the debut of Lukshon, located adjacent to Father's Office 2.0
1. It has been said that your beer-and-burger restaurant, Father’s Office, is responsible for launching a casual-food craze in the California fine-dining industry. Tell us about Father’s Office. What is the reason behind the name, and what inspired the menu?
The inspiration behind Father’s Office is the rich bar and casual dining culture of Europe: bustling brassieres, stylish enotecas and convivial tapas bars. I wanted to create a place that embodied that spirit – great food and drinks in a fun and energetic place. It was something that I felt Los Angeles was missing 12 years ago.
2. You noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article that you’re a huge believer in pressure cookers, and you prefer using a Kuhn Rikon model. Why are you a fan of pressure cookers, and why is the Kuhn Rikon model your favorite?
I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to cooking techniques. To me, the pressure cooker not only gives me a speed advantage but also a way to impact flavors. The physics behind pressure cooking is something I have spent time studying and experimenting with. The construction and elegantly simple design makes the Kuhn Rikon my preferred brand.
3. What are some of your favorite items to prepare in pressure cookers in your restaurants? At home?
In my restaurants, I often use a pressure cooker for things like octopus and pig ears. It's a great time saving tool. At home, I always use it for potatoes and corn. Not just for the speed but for flavor. Everyone should cook potatoes this way. The flavor is much more intense. It will almost be like tasting a potato for the first time.
4. You also mention in The Wall Street Journal article that you enjoy learning about modern cooking methods. What are some of your favorite modern cooking techniques, and why?
I love any technique that involves modifying the atmosphere, vacuum, pressure, carbonation, etc. Having powerful tools to experiment with is exciting and fun.
5. You’ve invented several products that you use in your restaurants. What are some of your favorite inventions, and why?
I have come up with a few tools in the kitchen but most of my innovations are advances or simplifying existing processes. I love efficiency. That’s why I’ve created systems like serving wine on tap, better management of ware washing and manipulating water for different purposes in a restaurant environment.
6. What tips would you have for someone who's just getting started with pressure cooking?
Since modern pressure cookers are so safe, anyone can feel comfortable using one. I would take a favorite braised meat recipe and try taking it to the pressure cooker. You can use less liquid and it will take less than half the time. But, also the flavors will be different from using a pressure cooker, more heightened. And….cook a potato.
7. What food trends do you see for the future?
Better home cooking tools. Techniques developed by chefs in the commercial kitchens are making their way in to the home now. I see this continuing as interest in what chefs are doing continues to grow.