Amateur London cook Chiara Esposito has created a “genius” new recipe, that could be as timeless as “the great French classics” with a unique Korean Kimchi twist, according to legendary chef Marco Pierre White.
The trainee accountant, 25, created a Kimchi recipe selected by White as one of two winners of his Kooking Korean Kimchi Challenge.
The competition was a joint venture between the pioneer chef, who become the first in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars, and Korea Agro Fisheries and K-Foodfan
The competition aimed to increase awareness of the health and nutrition benefits attributed to the 2,000-year-old South Korean recipe. Esposito’s creation wowed White, who praised her innovative tomato-based dish as “truly amazing”.
Now a highly distinguished restaurateur, White said that its blending of Mediterranean flavours with kimchi left him “ridiculously impressed”, reminding him of the classic Southern French recipes that shaped his own technique as a trainee.
Esposito’s recipe drew from childhood inspiration. Born in South Africa, her father opened a deli in Cape Town in 1989, and her youth was spent around Mediterranean cuisine.
“I thought kimchi would work well with a spicy dish so combined it with shakshuka” she said, referring to the Tunisian dish, which is based on a tomato sauce that includes a spice mixture of cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper.
Esposito took the core ingredients of shakshuka, refining it to combine with the sharpness of traditional Kimchi, an essential South Korean recipe of which White says, “the texture, acidity and flavour are extraordinary.”
On being given the chance to cook her invention with a grandee of UK haute cuisine, Esposito said the day “felt like an out of body experience.”
“I follow Marco Pierre on Instagram, have seen him on MasterChef, and I absolutely love watching him”. Esposito’s taste for kimchi had led her to regularly add the fermented sauce, made from red chilli peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt and cabbage to salads and cold dishes.
Her intrigue then propelled her into examining its nutritional benefits: “I started researching kimchi, and knew it was good for gut health properties, which ties into immune boosting properties.”
Because Kimchi is fermented, it makes an excellent probiotic, which supports good gut health. The ‘good’ bacteria found in yogurts and other fermented dairy products are also found in Kimchi.
There is growing evidence that probiotics such as Kimchi also have a range of wider health benefits, including helping heart health and blood sugar management. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that support vascular health and cognitive functions.
For Marco Pierre White though, the greatness of Kimchi is in the eating. “They’ve been making it for 2,000 years, and the reason is: it’s delicious. People want to keep eating it. It’s that simple.”