Judges Quit After Social Media Stir Over K-Food Cook-Off Contest

A Korean cooking contest planned for later this month in Tysons Corner was upended over the long weekend. A false and offensive statement on promotional materials for the K-Food Cook-Off claiming there’s “a lack of Korean restaurants in the DMV area” generated criticism on social media. Organizers attributed the language to Gogi Yogi managing partner Daniel Kramer. Even though organizers later retracted it, the message prompted a former chef of the Shaw Korean barbecue restaurant to speak out about her experience working there.

Critics on social media also questioned why there was only one Korean or Korean American on the contest’s judging panel. Half of the judges, including Kramer, have now quit the event.

The 2021 K-Food Cook-Off, scheduled for Sept. 26, challenges culinary students and Korean food enthusiasts to cook a dish incorporating kimchi in 45 minutes. It evolved from the Hansik Chef Contest that was created in 2012 to promote Korean food and ingredients in America. A version of the competition, which is supported by the Korean Embassy, has been held in the D.C. area since 2017. Gimga Group, headed by Mihae Kim Stefani, handles marketing and events, including the contest, for the Korean Food Promotion Institute.