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Chef Jia Choi’s Trip to the Netherlands

Posted on January 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm       No Comments

Last November, my friend Jia Choi was invited to be a featured teacher for Norwegian chefs. She was invited by Koppert Cress, fresh retail, Rungis, Nice to Meat, the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to teach a series of classes to Norwegian chefs and food professionals.

During her stay she was able to give a number demonstrations on the secrets of Korean cuisine while also getting to meet some of the top chefs of the country. Here are some photos and videos of what she did there.

Dan

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O’ngo Food Featured in the Korea Herald Newspaper

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm       No Comments

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O’ngo’s Food Tours Featured in Korean Air Magazine!

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 5:09 pm       No Comments

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O’ngo’s Food Tour were featured in Korean Air Magazine. We would like to thank author Alison Kent for such a nice write up.

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City of Seoul, Korea & Seoul Gourmet – Unravel Travel Travel TV

Posted on June 4, 2013 at 10:23 am       No Comments

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The INNERview – #13 “최지아” (Choi Ji-a), A President of O’ngo Food Communications.

Posted on June 4, 2013 at 10:22 am       No Comments

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O’ngo Food tour (KBS Programe – 52plus_다니엘그레이) – Food Tour

Posted on June 4, 2013 at 10:21 am       No Comments

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Maeil Gyeongjae 매일경제

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 5:30 pm       No Comments

 한식배우러방한한네덜란드요리사들…비빔밥·채소쌈매력에`푹`

기사입력 2013.03.21 17:57:50 | 최종수정 2013.03.21 19:23:11

13인의 네덜란드 셰프와 현지 유통업체 직원들이 한식을 배우기 위해 방한했다. 온고푸 드커뮤니케이션 본사에서 최지아 대표(오른쪽)가 식재료와 조리법에 대해 설명하고 있 다.

“첨가물 없이 채소 고유의 맛을 살리는 음식은 몇 개나 될까요. 채소 쌈과 비빔밥은 제 레스토랑에서 반드시 만들어 볼 생각입니다.”

네덜란드에서 이탈리안 레스토랑을 운영하는 유명 셰프 모시크 로트는 연신 엄지를 치켜세웠다.

각 나라의 음식문화로부터 요리에 대한 영감을 얻는다는 그가 한국을 찾은 건 바로 한식을 배우기 위해서다. 제런 그라프, 에디 데커 등 네덜란드의 쟁쟁한 요리사, 네 덜란드에서 일식으로 미슐랭2스타 레스토랑에까지 선정된 아키라 오시마 셰프 등 13명의 네덜란드 요리사들이 21일 서울 종로 낙원상가 인근 요리연구원인 `온고푸 드`에 모였다.

요리 강습과 푸드투어를 운영하는 온고푸드에 먼저 방문 제안을 해온 건 네덜란드 식품유통회사인 `프레시 리테일`이었다. 매년 전 세계 음식을 배우기 위해 네덜란드 유명 셰프들로 팀을 꾸려 움직이는 그들이 이번엔 한식을 배우겠다는 것.

최근 유럽에서 한국문화에 대한 관심 자체가 높아지고 `건강한 음식`에 대한 수요가

news.mk.co.kr/newsReadPrint.php?year=2013&no=216007 1/2

3/25/13

NO.1 경제포털 :: 매일경제
증가하면서 발효음식과 신선채소로 만드는 요리가 많은 한식에 대한 관심이 높아졌

기 때문이다. 이날 온고푸드 키친에서는 최지아 대표(이화여대 겸임교수)가 직접 고 추장ᆞ간장ᆞ된장ᆞ초고추장 등 한국의 양념과 소스에 대해 설명을 하고, 김치 만 드는 법, 불고기ᆞ제육볶음 등을 만드는 법 등을 강의했다.

모시크 로트 셰프는 요리수업이 끝나고 매일경제신문과 인터뷰하면서 “일식이나 중 식에 비해 한식은 지중해 혹은 스페인 음식과 유사한 측면이 많다”며 “한식도 지나 치게 서구화시키지 말고 천천히 한 걸음씩 유럽으로 진출해 들어오면 충분히 승산 이 있다”고 말했다.

오는 26일까지 북한 음식, 사찰 음식 등을 연구하고 전통시장을 둘러보며 식재료에 대한 공부를 한 뒤 13인의 셰프들은 네덜란드로 돌아가며 그 이후 진짜 한식세계화 의 물꼬가 터질 전망이다.

이번 투어를 진행한 네덜란드 유통업체 프레시 리테일이 한국의 간장ᆞ고추장 등 소스와 한우 등을 네덜란드로 들여갈 수 있는지, 시장성이 얼마나 있는지 조사를 함 께 진행하고 있다. 프레시 리테일의 헨크 돈겐은 “발효과정을 통해 인공첨가물 없이 맛을 내는 한국의 `장`류 등을 현지화시켜 들여올 수 있는 방법 등을 연구하고 있 다”고 말했다.

[고승연 기자 / 사진 =이충우 기자]

[c 매일경제 & mk.co.kr, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]

Copyright c 2007 매경닷컴(주) All Rights Reserved.

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Gangnam Style Food Tour featured in USA Today Newspaper

Posted on December 2, 2012 at 2:18 am       No Comments

Thanks to Psy, Korea seems to be quite popular right now. The good thing is that every journalist needs to eat. I was lucky enough to show USA Today Journalist Jayne Clarke around in Gangnam.

Here is what Jayne had to say about our tours:

‘Amazing place’ for food

New Yorkers Adam Wadler and his wife, Vivian Chen, have come to Seoul primarily to eat. Researching their dining-centric trip presented a bit of an “information hurdle,” he says. “But it’s an amazing place. I’m really glad I came.”

They’ve hooked up with Daniel Gray of O’ngo Food Tours for a whirlwind evening at a trio of Gangnam restaurants. It begins at Seoyeon, a six-table noodle shop famous for its handmade pork dumplings. Next stop is Bon Barbecue, where tables have grills and individual exhaust fans. Then it’s on to a Kkanbu Chicken for Korean fried chicken, though this KFC — extra crispy outside and super-moist inside — bears little resemblance to KFC franchise fare.

They wash down the food with Korean beer, soju (a distilled vodka-like rice drink) andmakgeolli, or “farmer’s liquor.” Like many a night out in Seoul, it ends at a noraebang, a private karaoke room.

Thank you so much, Jayne. You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2012/11/29/gangnam-style-puts-seoul-on-the-travel-map/1736497/

Come join our Gangnam Food Tours at O’ngo Food Communications.

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한국인 즐기는 美·맛·풍경이, 외국인 2000만명 부른다

Posted on November 21, 2012 at 11:24 am       No Comments

[1000만 관광객 돌파… ‘2000만명 시대’ 위한 5가지 제언]
① 내국인 몰려야 인프라 개선 – 산천어·머드축제, 우리가 찾자 외국인도 따라와
② 지방을 업그레이드하자 – 80% 서울서만 머물러… 지역관광 활성화 필요
③ IT기술로 ‘홀로 여행’ 쉽게 – 개별 관광객 위한 모바일·인터넷 서비스 늘려야
④ 고소비층 ‘맞춤 상품’ 개발 – 상류층 위해 쇼핑·레저 겸한 테마파크 개발시급
⑤ 몸으로 겪어보게 하라 – 식사예절 체험 인기, 한방의료·K팝 등도 가능성

외국인 관광객 1000만명 돌파를 계기로 정부는 이제 ‘2020년 2000만명 유치’ 프로젝트에 본격 돌입했다. 전문가들은 “2000만명은 돼야 한국도 관광대국을 자부할 수 있을 것”이라고 한다. 각계 전문가들의 의견을 들어 ‘외국인 관광객 2000만명 달성’을 위한 제언 5가지를 정리해 봤다.

①한국인이 가야 외국인도 간다

세계인의 눈높이에 맞추려면 한국 사람이 먼저 찾아 만족해야 한다. 보령 머드축제, 화천 산천어축제, 창덕궁 달빛기행(야간 개방), 템플스테이 등이 좋은 예. 모두 내국인들이 먼저 찾아 유명해지자 외국인 관광객들이 뒤따라 찾아 히트한 상품들이다. 조동성 서울대 교수는 “내국인들이 몰리기 시작하면 숙박·음식점 등의 인프라 시설이 들어서고 서비스도 나아져 자연히 외국 관광객들이 찾게 된다”며 “(2000만명 시대를 열려면) 먼저 10여년째 3500만명 내외에 머물러 있는 국내 관광객 수를 배 이상 늘려야 한다”고 했다.

②지방을 업그레이드하자

한국 방문 관광객의 재방문율은 40%. 한국을 다시 찾는 외국인 관광객이 절반도 되지 않는다는 뜻이다. 반면 일본은 외래 관광객의 재방문율이 60%를 넘는다. 두 나라의 차이는 일본의 경우 도쿄는 물론 위로 홋카이도부터 아래로 오키나와까지 두루 관광객을 끌어들이는 데 비해 한국은 관광객의 80%가 서울에만 머물다 간다는 점. 롯데관광 중국 담당 조광희 전무는 “서울과 제주도를 제외하면 숙박·쇼핑시설 등 관광 인프라가 부족하고 볼거리도 빈약하다”며 “지역 관광이 활성화해야 외국인 관광객들이 더 오래 체류할 수 있을 것”이라고 했다.

③IT 강점 활용, 홀로여행 쉽게 하자

외국인 개별 여행객은 단체 여행객에 비해 한국 여행 만족도가 높고, 더 돈을 많이 쓰며, 재방문율도 높다고 한다. 삼성경제연구소 주영민 수석연구원은 “개별 관광객에게 가장 큰 장애가 되는 의사소통, 현지 정보 확보 등의 문제를 모바일 기술을 이용해 해결할 수 있다”고 했다. 중국인 여행객·유학생을 대상으로 서울에서 발행되는 중국어 무가지 ‘말할 수 없는 한국의 비밀’이 한 예이다. 이 잡지에 실린 QR 코드를 스마트폰으로 스캔하면 카페, 상점 등의 정보와 전자 지도, 주소가 스마트폰에 다운로드된다. 이런 서비스를 늘릴 필요가 있다.

 16일 인천공항을 통해 외국인 관광객들이 입국하고 있다. 21일 외국인 관광객이 사상 처음 1000만명을 돌파할 것으로 보인다. /채승우 기자

④고소비층 ‘맞춤 관광상품’ 만들자

2005~2011년 한국을 찾은 외국인 관광객 1인당 관광 씀씀이 증가율은 연평균 4.4%로 싱가포르(12.1%)·일본(10.3%)·홍콩(10.8%) 등 경쟁국에 비해 크게 떨어진다. 현대경제연구원 조규림 연구원은 “중국 등 아시아 관광객 중 고소비층이 급증하는 추세이며 이들의 쇼핑 규모도 확대되고 있다”며 “쇼핑과 레저를 겸할 수 있는 새로운 테마파크를 기획하는 등 고소비층을 위한 맞춤 관광 상품이나 프로그램을 개발해야 한다”고 했다.

⑤몸으로 겪어 보게 하자

세계 최대 여행 정보 사이트 ‘트립어드바이저’에서 외국인 여행자들이 꼽은 ‘서울 최고의 명물’은 한식관광회사 ‘온고푸드’이다. 관광객들을 광장시장, 피맛골 등으로 안내해 갖가지 한식을 맛보게 하고 술 따르는 법, 식사 예절 등도 가르쳐준다. 성수기에는 한 달에 300명 이상이 몰릴 정도로 인기다. 전문가들은 “음식은 물론이고 한방 의료, K팝 등 문화 체험 관광이 새로운 관광 수요 창출의 핵심”이라고 한다.

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Article in Joongahn ilbo: Tourism industry is learning to adapt

Posted on November 9, 2012 at 11:22 am       No Comments

http://koreajoongangdaily.joinsmsn.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2961025

Tourism industry is learning to adapt

[ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL] More companies emphasize experience over sightseeing

Oct 19,2012

With more diverse groups of foreigners coming to Korea, some prefer creative tours to simple standard sightseeing. A German chef learns how to make tofu by grinding beans using a matdol, or millstone, during a multi-day culinary tour by O’ngo Food Communications. Provided by Daniel Gray

Inspection season is nerve-wracking for Lee Gil-su, an engineer at a company in Yeouido, central Seoul, who must examine stacks of assembled parts for export. Another dreaded task is coming up with itineraries for foreign clients visiting Korea.

“I had to greet a group of Iranian guests a couple of years ago,” says Lee. “It was about the time almost all Iranian clients started their business e-mails with ‘Dae Jang Geum.’?”

Aired on a national network in Iran, the period drama “Jewel in the Palace” set in the Joseon Dynasty amassed a whopping viewer rating of 86 percent. When the drama series aired in Korea in 2003 and 2004, it drew 55.5 percent of viewers.

“The Iranian guests wanted me to take them to Dae Jang Geum Theme Park as soon as they landed, so I picked them up and drove there, but I was shocked by how it looked,” Lee says. “It seemed deserted. Except for a couple of life-size cardboard cutouts of leading actors and actresses, there was nothing except wrecked outdoor sets.”

The 40-year-old engineer once thought about using travel agencies, but he didn’t want to pay thousands of won for cookie-cutter tours.

Hooked, then lost 

These days, Korea is again in the spotlight as a potential international tourist destination, thanks to “Gangnam Style” and the second wave of K-pop, according to Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).

A recent survey conducted by the United States branch of KTO found that 60 percent of 200 residents of Los Angeles and New York said they developed an urge to visit Gangnam after watching Psy’s music video.

However, tourism experts say that other than shopping, the country doesn’t have much more to offer tovisitors today that when Lee was ferrying his Iranian clients to the decrepit Dae Jang Geum Theme Park. And that means there are few reasons for foreign tourists to return.

“Korean tourism achieved rapid growth in terms of the number of tourists, higher than any other country,” says Lee Hun, a professor of tourism at Hanyang University.

About a million foreigners visited Korea in 1978, and that number rose to 2.3 million in 1988 when Seoul hosted the Summer Olympic. This year, the KTO estimates the Korea will attract 11 million tourists.

“Korea has achieved growth in quantity, but it is hard to say that it has succeeded in increasing quality. We’ve come to a stage where we should think about turning quantitative growth into quality experiences,” Lee adds.

In fact, seven out of 10 foreign tourists last year said they intend to visit Korea again, but a few of them return, the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute says. For instance, 43.7 percent of tourists were repeat visitors in 2009 and 39.2 percent in 2011.

“We should offer more cultural content in addition to sightseeing-oriented tour courses so we can induce foreign tourists to visit again,” Lee continues.

Korea’s major tour agencies offer similar packages, typically including Gyeongbok Palace, the National Folk Museum of Korea and Insa-dong, once an area of fine antique shops that is now brimming with shoddy purveyors of souvenirs and cosmetics.

“Think about it. A tour guide keeps telling you how Korean foods are nutritious and healthy. But if you can have a chance to learn how to make local food during your stay, it will make a huge difference,” says a tour guide for North American businesspeople in Seoul for the past decade who asked to remain anonymous. “But most tour programs are quite stereotypical and lacking in creativity and originality.”

The standard itineraries at Cosmojin Tour, which specializes in foreign VIPs, are not that different from those of other agencies. Palaces and long-running nonverbal performances like “Nanta” is where cash-rich, time-poor important guests head.

“Sometimes they drop by Opera Gallery in southern Seoul, but we don’t have specialized art or culture tours for them yet,” says Jason Kim, a public relations manager at PR Bridge on behalf of Cosmojin Tour.

Storytelling matters 

People who work in the tourism industry say Korea needs destinations with stories to achieve sustainable growth in tourism.

“Ideas are needed if we really want to captivate foreign tourists,” said Kang Woo-hyon, CEO of Nami Island, Gangwon, during lunch with a group of reporters a few months ago.

Nami Island attracted 2.3 million visitors last year and 420,000 of them were foreigners.

Before Kang arrived in 2001, however, Nami Island attracted about 260,000 people per year.

The island was a popular destination in 1970s and 1980s, but its appeal waned as central Seoul and other cities developed.

It didn’t take long for the island to be littered with trash and soju bottles by binge drinkers.

By 2000, it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

However, Kang, who oversees the island for its private owner, saw cash in the trash left behind by all those partiers. Green soju bottles were pressed and made into tiles and the whole island was decorated with discarded items.

It didn’t hurt that the island became famous throughout Asia when it was featured in the popular drama series “Winter Sonata” in 2002.

Dae Jang Geum Theme Park and Nami Island both were featured in popular drama series, but their similarities end there. The lack of a story was one of the reasons Dae Jang Geum Theme Park closed earlier this year, while Nami Island succeeded by rewriting its story from the remnants of failure.

“If Korea wants to mature as a tourist destination, it has to pay attention to the current trend,” says Choi Kyung-eun, a researcher at Korea Culture and Tourism Institute. “People used to look around at sightseeing places and take photos. They found it pleasant because trips were not very common. But today, everyone leaves on a trip wanting to do something more than just watching.

“If we can work on this issue, it will make travelers visit this country again.”

From left: Tasting street food is one way for foreigners to get to know Korea. Provided by Korea Tourism Organization; The Korean Night Dining Tour is inspired by hoesik, or the company outing. Provided by O’ngo Food Communications

Niche market 

Many of Korea’s leading tour operators have a poor understanding of what visitors want, but some businesses are starting to think outside the box.

“Before winery tours were launched in the United States, nobody took American wine seriously,” says Jia Choi, president of O’ngo Food Communications. “But Napa Valley winery tours added value to American wine. I wanted to make foreigners feel Korean culture with their hearts and hands, and that was the beginning of our food tour.”

O’ngo Food Communications offers a wide range of food-related tours, such as one-day programs like the Korean Night Dining Tour, where travelers experience the drinking culture of Korea. The tour exposes participants to the hoesik, or company outing, culture of the nation. Not to mention boilermakers (beer and soju).

Another option is the Korean Taste Tour, where visitors sample street food and other tours that visit places like Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market. The tour is fun and lively enough to change the minds of some foreigners, who prior to visiting the market would have refused to eat live small octopus. A guide accompanies group travelers and explains the roles of a variety of food in Korean culture and the proper way to indulge in street food.

“It is a whole different experience if you visit a museum by yourself or look around the museum with a curator,” says Choi.

O’ngo started to offer food tours in 2008. The company name comes from a Chinese phrase ongojisin, which roughly translates to revitalizing tradition through modernization. The company also offers multi-day food tours where travelers can learn the basic components of Korean food. The tour includes visits to farms and a kimchi factory, and is popular among foreign chefs.

At TripAdvisor, O’ngo’s food tours rank first, ahead of such tourist staples as Gyeongbok Palace, Insa-dong and Itaewon.

An American professor identified as Tony R. wrote, “O’ngo Food was a perfect introduction to Seoul.”

Such rave reviews have helped the company grow bigger and more stable.

“Sales used to be dependent on the seasons, but now we are immune to seasonal factors,” says Choi, who has a Ph.D. in food and nutrition.

“The best thing about this work is when we see travelers who return to Korea. After the food tour, they plan a trip to Busan and Jeju.

“After all, nobody wants to see Gyeongbok Palace again.”

By Sung So-young [[email protected]]

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