We had the good fortune of connecting with Andy Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andy, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Nanoom means “to share” in Corean.
I make Corean food the way our parents and grandparents remember them. When I decided to start my own private dining company, Nanoom Dining, I knew that the identity of the brand would be more than sharing great food and bespoke cocktails. There are many meaningful ways that I tie in all things Corean into Nanoom Dining. Our gift cards are printed on hanji, paper only made in Corea that is supposed to last a millennium or longer. I recently learned the art of Corean gift wrapping called bojagi, and I used that skill to wrap the leftovers from the dinner with cloth made in Corea which is then presented to my clients at the end. All the ceramic plates and service wares are hand-made from Corea. The table cover is designed with the materials that are used to make traditional Corean clothing, Hanbok. There is honestly, a dozen or so meaningful homage I wove into the dining experience and they all work as a story-sharing device for the private dining experience. I truly believe what makes Nanoom Dining special is that it is my love letter to both my Corean heritage as well as my 17-year long career as a chef.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I lost my job due to Covid19, the original plan was to take 6 to 9 months off from everything. I’ve had a 17 year long career as a chef and I thought I needed a break.
Then on my first day of unemployment, my wife asked me what I really wanted to do. I shared with her that I was happiest when I cooked for engaged couples for the wedding tasting. I told her I wanted to take my Corean food in a private dining setting at the client’s home since restaurant dining wasn’t an option. The very next day, my wife designed the Nanoom Dining logo with water colors. Within days, we had the business cards printed, website and instagram secured. My wife is the most creative, supportive and patient person I know. I am forever grateful to share life with her.
My entire career, I always shied away from cooking Corean food professionally. I was hesitant to be in my own skin and cook the food I grew up eating. But when I was feeling down, all I wanted to do was to cook Corean food and learn more about the food I kept distant from. I wanted to cook and plate Corean food without westernizing the presentation. With Nanoom Dining, I cook Corean food the way our parents remember them.
Nanoom Dining is my personal love letter to Corean food, to my entire career, and all the people that helped me along the way. It is my personal and cultural journey to learn more about Corea and to share with others through food and drinks.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Lunch is a must at Shiku in Grand Central Market. I would recommend that to check out dangsungsa for dinner and drinks in K-town.
and late night bone broth soup at hatban in K-town.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wonho Photo (photography) wonhophoto.com
Nossi Bojagi (bojagi art) nossinossi.com
Studio Ko (ceramics) studioko.la
lee Hwa (table covers) leehwawedding.com
All food photos has been taken by Wonho Photo wonhophoto.com