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Alumni Interview

Ms. Yooin Jung, CEO of UFO Burger

Diplôme de Cuisine 201 and Certificat de Pâtisserie de Base 2018

What made you learn cuisine program at Le Cordon Bleu-Sookmyung Academy?
Through my mother, who ran a Korean restaurant, it was natural for me to encounter many types of dishes, so I was very interested in foods from a very young age. Perhaps due to the numerous opportunities to experience new dishes, food, cuisine, and ingredients have always been my interest. However, after going to college and considering career paths, I never thought of becoming a chef as I knew so well what a challenging profession. After periods of feeling lost and not being able to grow interested while working in an ordinary company, I focused more on what I liked to do. After great deliberation, I decided to take on cooking, something I had always wanted. Once I had decided to learn cuisine, the first thing I did was look for a school. While there are numerous great culinary schools in Korea, because I was shifting careers in my late 20s, I decided to learn cooking at Le Cordon Bleu, where I felt I could learn efficiently in a professional setting.

What did you do after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, and what is your current job?
Right after finishing Le Cordon Bleu, I was most interested in working in a kitchen where I would be at the heart of the action. However, feeling I had entered this field relatively late, I focused on "how I could gain experience faster than others" and "where I could make the most of what I learned at Le Cordon Bleu and apply not only the fundamentals and skills I was taught but leverage the theoretical knowledge I gained to shape my experience". After giving it much thought, I decided to become a cooking teacher as I could make use of the knowledge I gained and share this with others. I thought that working in a large and well-known cooking academy would provide me with greater opportunities and so I joined the largest cooking academy in the country, and during the two years I worked there, I worked busily, almost like in a kitchen, by participating in numerous company events, considering these years to be an excellent opportunity to build my portfolio.
After this, I started a catering business using the foundations I built in many countries' cuisines while working at a cooking academy. I worked extremely hard and put a lot of effort into this business, and as my stream of returning customers grew, the business's reputation grew as well that we even catered for events hosted by the Blue House. Later on, an online catering platform company offered me to be the Center Director. I ended up taking this position while running my catering business. Now I am running a franchise brand called UFO Burger.

What do you consider the most important when developing a brand?
First, it must be 'Taste'. 'Taste' is the essence of any restaurant, and that is why I give it such central importance.
The second is 'Branding'. Even if you are able to build a proper essence, if you are not able to attract the curiosity and interest of customers, the creation you prepared may disappear without having had the chance to show off this ‘taste’ you prepared so fiercely. 

How do you wish UFO Burger to be remembered by people?
‘A brand that those who tried always recommend.’
I hope that the brand gets remembered as a franchise have customer loyalty that whenever someone asks, "What burger is good these days?" or "what place is trendy these days?" people can recommend UFO Burger without hesitation.   

What are your current interests? 
By chance, I came across road cycling and have been enjoying cycling with great team of people. As a novice, I was relatively fearless. I went cycling in Daegwallyeong (a total of 80km, with a cumulative elevation of 1,600m). Somehow, I was able to complete the route despite the countless hills and feeling that I would melt into the asphalt under the burning sun. In case of emergency, we had a support vehicle following us, and more advanced cyclists were passing me by and conquering the course much more quickly. There were many times I felt desperate and wanted to quit, but because I was with members of the cycling club, I had the courage to continue and complete the route with grit. When cycling, I often think back to when I started to learn cooking. Ten years ago, the business I am running and my experience today seemed too big to attain. However, with the help of chef instructors that stood by me, like the support vehicles following us, and with the help of colleagues with whom we shared the same dream, I was able to challenge myself to where I am today. In the same way that cooking taught me that, if I can get past negative thoughts like saying "I can't do it" or "this is too hard", and that I persevere with hard work right where I stand, opportunities are bound to come, road cycling and every completed tour refuels me with this sense of accomplishment and strengthens my grit. This is why road cycling is one of my greatest interests these days.

If you have a role model, who is it and why?  
It’s Kelly Choi. Kelly Choi started off doing manual labor and even indebted herself close to 1 billion won by starting a business. But with perseverance and passion, she is a very successful businesswoman with over 1200 stores in over 11 European countries and annual revenue of 540 billion won. While there are many factors that make her great, there are times when running a business when one can get too fixated on their thoughts or is unable to ask for help. Kelly Choi analyzed 1,000 successful people and applied aspects to herself, and did not hesitate to receive help. As she expanded her business, she constantly found mentors and was always ready to listen and ask for help when needed, and it is this courage that I truly find amazing. Like Kelly Choi, I hope to become a businesswoman with persistence, passion, and humility.

Any advice for students considering starting this program?
You must have often heard the saying, "If you don't do anything, nothing happens." Actually, I want to tell you that this is not the case. Time is flowing as we speak now. I am the youngest today as I will ever be. Furthermore, the world around me moves and changes even when I am still. So I want you to know that it's not that nothing happens when you do nothing, but rather, it is you falling behind. There aren't many experiences in life that you can buy with money. So don't clutter your thoughts by overthinking but confront the challenge. Especially if the place you are unsure of is a place like Le Cordon Bleu, where numerous alumni have built their dreams, I think there is even less to be concerned about.

Do you have any tips for fellow alumni or future students dreaming of starting their own business?
I've met many people dreaming of starting their own business while running my franchise brand. Unfortunately, I sometimes see people starting their business with only a vague vision. I can advise such people to make a detailed initial and mid-to-long term plan for the beginning and forecast revenues conservatively, then practice making plans accordingly. I remember being frustrated by not achieving the same result each time I practiced making my own recipe after getting so used to reproducing the dishes we had learned in class. Memories of planning out recipes down to the minute and practicing them many times until attaining a satisfactory result are still a good foundation for me today as I started a business and continue running it today. Also, once you have made the plan, I recommend constantly taking a step back, creating an objective self to ask hard and pointed questions about your plans and try to answer them.

To Yooin Jung, Le Cordon Bleu is?
A career accelerator.
To someone like me, who was merely interested and passionate in cooking, Le Cordon Bleu didn't just teach me recipes but, from the first moment I put on the uniform, taught me the skills that were consolidated over 500 years and the humanistic approach that led to making a dish. Moreover, diverse culinary experiences provided a stepping stone that allowed me to leap forward in my new career.

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