Clara ParkClara Park
Chef Clara Park grew up in a traditional Korean family and was expected to be doctor. She attended the University of Chicago and then realizing she didn’t want to be a medical doctor, decided to pursue a PhD in biology at Columbia instead. She found that she would rather be in the kitchen or a restaurant than the lab and became a “PhD Dropout” (sung to the tune of “Beauty School Dropout” from Grease) and left Columbia with “just a Master’s degree”. She enrolled in the work-study program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and worked off her entire tuition while temping in finance during the day. She even earned the honor of being NYSSA Third Place Temp of the Year. Chef Park truly learned to cook at Gary Danko (San Francisco), Town Hall (San Francisco), Redd (RIP, Napa Valley), Osteria (Philadelphia), and momofuku ko (NYC). Her favorite place she has cooked is in the Loire Valley at Le Moulin Bregeon where she would greet the guests upon arrival and ask them about what they wanted to eat or not eat. It was her first time having a giant garden, fruit trees and chickens on the property. Needless to say, it was some of the best food she has ever cooked in her life. Park transitioned to food media and helped Barbara Kafka write The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food without Gluten or Lactose. A highly skilled recipe developer, she has worked for Campbell’s Soup, Swanson, Tabasco and Pepperidge Farm. As a culinary development chef, Park has created hundreds of products for the nation’s top grocers, including Costco. She has developed menus for all levels of airport dining in numerous cuisines. She loves training both front and back of house hospitality professionals and even led a Front of House Hospitality Training Bootcamp with Drexel University and Philadelphia Works. Other career highlights include winning Best Burger in Philly in 2016, emerging victorious on the Food Network’s Chopped, eating live octopus with chefs Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert and talking with Michael Pollan about how he nailed the Korean concept of “sohn maht/hand taste” in his book “Cooked” and his clairvoyant article “Power Steer”. Presently, she is on the board for The Food Lab at Drexel University and the advisory council for the Culinary Literacy Center at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Her sincere belief is that if you cook more, you will eat better and ultimately live better. Her goal is to teach as many people to cook as possible and have the most fun while doing it. You can cheer her on as she tests her snack making skills on Netflix’s Snack v. Chef which premieres November 30, 2022. It only took a few magazine articles, two television appearances, a cookbook, a product line at Costco and millions in product sales for her dad to finally leave out the disclaimer that she was a chef “with a Master’s from Columbia”, now he proudly proclaims that she is a chef (during the pandemic she would cook 3 course meals and bring wine to her parents every weekend, so you can see how it proved to be more beneficial to have a daughter who is a chef rather than a doctor. Her dad even told her that his friends were “envious” that they got chef prepared meals every weekend.). You can learn more at www.claraparkcooks.com.