Jae Wook Ko, a Le Cordon Bleu Paris alumni, has opened his own pastry shop, Millegâteaux, in Korea.
Meet Jae Wook KO, a distinguished Le Cordon Bleu Paris Diplôme de Pâtisserie class of 2010 alumnus, and a cherished member of Le Cordon Bleu family. Discover his story, from unearthing a passion for the mille-feuilles, one of France’s most famous pastries, to pioneering a pastry shop, specialized in over 40 pastries back in Korea.
Jae Wook was introduced to baking at a very young age and had the opportunity to live in France with his sister who was enrolled on the Diplôme de Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. He was immediately drawn to the culinary arts and therefore to Le Cordon Bleu, often sharing the dishes made by his sister during her programme and talking about them in depth. These conversations ignited his dream of becoming a culinary expert and building a family orientated business.
Over the years, his sister directly influenced his decision to enrol at Le Cordon Bleu Paris in 2009. Throughout his programme, he would spend time searching for new flavours and new ingredients to make his creations even more unique and widen his culinary expertise. He would take immense pleasure in learning about these new ingredients during his classes: “There were countless fresh ingredients that I did not know back in Korea. Some fruits and vegetables had different flavours than in France.
In his spare time, he would share his creations with his family and friends, discuss the different flavours and come up with new ideas to make the final result even better. Jae Wook’s inspiration also came from spending time roaming around Paris and discovering France’s culinary heritage. He was particularly fascinated by the renowned mille-feuilles, one of France’s most famous pastries.
After graduating in 2010, he decided to stay in France and work as a teaching assistant at Le Cordon Bleu. This gave him the opportunity to find a job and get hands-on experience working at Pierre Hermé, one of France’s most famous pastry chefs, who specializes in macarons. After a while, he felt the need to introduce the array of French pastries he had discovered to his family and friends back home in Korea. He therefore decided to open “MilleGâteaux”, a small pastry shop specialized in over 40 different French pastries including the famous “mille-feuilles”, which is the signature pastry on his menu.
Opening a French pastry shop abroad can be challenging, especially when importing French products such as butter and flour: “One of the biggest challenges I faced was balancing the unstable prices of imported goods and the various customer prices. I refuse to compromise my pastries by purchasing cheaper ingredients and giving up on the great value of AUTHENTICITY.
Today, he has a great deal of pride and fulfilment in his work “I began my career as a pâtissier, I was excited about learning something new on a daily basis. As I see the meaning of progress not only in the speed of work but also in the level of completion.
” Today, Jae Wook Ko is also an ambassador of the Bretagne butter "Le Gall" in Seoul, Korea.
As an entrepreneur, his advice to future students, who wish to follow in his footsteps, is to: “Stick to the basics! Learn as much in the class as possible and better your experience in the kitchen before building your own business. The one thing I would have loved to have back is, more time. Time to experiment and time to fail. If anyone wants to create their own business, they should first begin small and simple. You can achieve the bigger things later on in life. Start small, then scale up.