The chef behind much-loved Hanbun in Chicago, now brings his innovative cooking to his new culinary playground, Jeong, in the same city. The successor restaurant’s name holds a personal meaning to the chef, representing deep emotional attachment in Korean culture. Not only is it his grandmother’s maiden name, but it also describes a special type of love that fosters a deep, soulful connection creating a lasting bond between people. This is is exactly what Park and his fiancée, Jen Tran, hope to convey through their offering at Jeong.
Park’s approach to food sees him using traditional Korean ingredients in an untraditional way. His carefully curated á la carte menus are reminiscent of his childhood, but with a modern twist. This includeds dishes such as mackerel sashimi served with genmaicha, a sesame chojang dressing, wild rice and chopi; beef tartare with Asian pear, cucumber, deviled yolk and a buckwheat and perilla cracker; pressed duck confit with kabocha, sesame leaf kimchi and a duck and gochujang jus and braised short rib with confit turnips, brown butter carrot veloute, iceburg lettuce and carrot jjangachi.
The influence of Korean cuisine is very apparent in Park’s food, and stems from a love for these flavours from his childhood. The Chef, who was born in Anyang, Korea, found himself immersed in traditional Korean cooking from a young age. Frequent visits to markets with his grandmother left a long-lasting impression and a refined attention to detail in Dave’s mind. She regularly collected base ingredients to create sesame paste and gochujang, which she used in dishes Park cherished. He now uses these memories as inspiration to create dishes that pay homage to his fond younger years.
Park moved to New Jersey at the age of 8, and instead of Korean markets, the Food Network served as his next fascination. Chef/host Tyler Florence’s passion lit a fire of Dave’s own in his belly, which led him to later pursue gastronomy as a career.
After spending some time prepping sandwiches at a local family-run restaurant in high school, Park was bitten by the chef bug and he decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Here, he met his future fiancé and business partner, Jennifer Tran. Upon graduating, Dave worked in various kitchens including Michelin-starred Takashi and The Aviary, where he was part of its opening team under world-renowned chef Grant Achatz. The latter, the Chef admits, still remains his most formative culinary experience. Cooking for distinguished United Nations guests also sits firmly on his resume.
After years of hard work, Park’s dream of opening his own restaurant where he was able to share with diners his unique heritage finally came into fruition in December 2015 when he, along with Tran, opened up Hanbun in the Chicago suburbs. A small but formidable stall in a mall food court, Hanbun was welcomed with rave reviews. Serving casual Korean fare for lunch, with a “Juhnyuk” tasting menu in the evening, that was experienced by only one table reservation per night, Hanbun’s popularity soared. The unlikely location, which was originally selected to be a low-risk investment for the pair, became an instant hit, and the exclusivity of Juhnyuk only heightened the craze around Hanbun, with reservations booked out more than a year in advance.
As a result of Hanbun’s success, Park had an impressive year in 2017. He was named as a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for “Rising Star Chef of the Year”, he received an Eater “Young Gun” award, and was featured as one of Plate’s “Chefs to Watch.”
In hopes of building on this success, Park and his fiancée wanted to expand their culinary offerings by opening a full-service restaurant within the Windy City, and thus, Jeong was born. After opening its doors in March 2019, Jeong was welcomed with critical acclaimed, earning glowing reviews from The Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, CS Magazine, Time Out Chicago, and more.
Park describes his culinary philosophy at Jeong: “I just cook the kind of food that makes people happy and that I enjoy eating,” he says. “We want to share a different side of Korean cuisine with Chicago.”
Describe your culinary philosophy in FOUR words:
Heartfelt, childhood flavors refined.
What is your greatest inspiration and how do you incorporate this into your cooking?
Memories of my grandparents and the food they cooked.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go and why?
Quay in Australia. I have always wanted to go to Australia, and the food there really resonates with me.
What FOUR things would you take to a desert island?
If people and animals count, I would bring my fiancée Jen, our dogs, my knife kit and a big tub of laundry detergent.
- James Beard Rising Star semifinalist 2017
- Eater Young Gun Award 2017
- Chicago Magazine Emerging Power Player 2019
- CS Magazine Chef of the Year 2019
- Time Out Chicago Best New Restaurant 2019 for Jeong
- Chicago Tribune 50 Best Restaurants 2019 for Jeong
1460 W Chicago Ave
Tel: (312) 877-5016
Images © Hahm Visuals