Until now, Jean-Georges was the Vongerichten with the culinary clout, but his wife, Marja, is getting into the fray with her new public television show and cookbook, The Kimchi Chronicles. The New York Daily News profiles her today, learning about how her desire for Korean food returned after meeting her birth mother, who had given her up for adoption many years before.
During their meeting, her mother prepared bulgogi (marinated beef), dwenjang jjigae (a soybean-paste stew), and chong-gak kimchi (fermented radishes). The article notes that Marja had gone 17 years without Korean food, which isn’t entirely true, though. There’s actually a very poignant scene in the introduction to the Kimchi Chronicles cookbook in which Marja goes grocery-shopping at age 14 and sees some kimchi, which she sneaks into her adopted family’s shopping cart. The kimchi proved to be her madeleine, instilling a desire to connect with her roots. It’s a sweet story, worth a glimpse. Or you can just catch the show, which airs at 4 p.m. on Sundays on PBS. The program also features Jean-Georges, along with movie stars like Hugh Jackman and Heather Graham (hey, the celeb-friend-on-a-culinary-tour worked for Mario, right?) as they gallivant through South Korea, exploring the country’s food culture.
But the real reason why Marja can claim mad culinary skills? According to the Daily News, Chloe, the Vongerichtens’ 11-year-old daughter, much prefers Mom’s cooking to her father’s three-star Michelin fare, eating his grub only if “it’s pancakes, nuggets or pizza.” Kind of reassuring that not every kid is a gourmand-in-training, no?