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  • Writer's pictureSasha Huang

Sollip: A Marriage of Love, Korean Heritage & Gastronomy From Chef Woongchul Park & Bomee Ki

INTERVIEW




At Sollip, the culinary artistry of husband-and-wife duo Woongchul Park and Bomee Ki comes to life, blending Korean heritage with European influences. This unique fusion, which earned Sollip a Michelin star in 2022, is deeply rooted in their South Korean childhood and their shared journey in London. The restaurant's name, meaning pine needle in Korean, symbolises the traditional ingredient used to control smoke and flames in Korean cuisine, reflecting the attention to intricate details in the menu.


Woongchul, with a background in esteemed kitchens like The Ledbury and Koffmann’s, and Bomee, a classically-trained pastry chef from The Arts Club, met at Le Cordon Bleu in London. Their menu is a testament to their heritage, love, and culinary precision, showcasing Korean flavours and European, particularly French, techniques they mastered during their culinary education.





Sollip's dishes are idiosyncratic yet comforting, balancing the warmth of Korean cuisine with the elegance of European styles. In contemporary Korean minimalist interior design of warm whites and Korean Onggi pots and artisanal tableware sourced from Korean ceramicists, the couple brings their heritage and passion to life on each plate. The restaurant's fermentation technique for their in-house fermented kimchi is based on an old family recipe. Every corner of Sollip is filled with memories, culture and love. Here, Woongchul Park, Co-owner & Chef of Sollip, shares us with the couple's story that has created a dining experience that is uniquely theirs.






1. What is the philosophy of Sollip’s cuisine?


Sollip is where passion for French and European cuisine meets the culinary origins shared by my wife and I. In the UK, I think we were the first to launch a restaurant implementing a fine dining menu which brings together French and Korean influences. Sollip’s philosophy is simple, we create thoughtfully considered dishes with quality ingredients that explore flavours from both countries. In our kitchen, nothing happens by chance; everything is placed on the plate with a clear purpose as our menus are designed with care and intention.


We see our dishes evolve constantly as we experiment with flavours combinations. I like to think we aren’t pigeonholed into one style only. Most importantly, we create dishes that we would like to eat ourselves. For my part, I’d say my cooking is honest and free. I bring my own heritage, experiences and teachings to the kitchen. My wife Bomee leads the pastry team at Sollip. I enjoy cooking savoury dishes more. Bomee and I create menus that are truly ours, interspersed influences from throughout our lives.






"Sollip’s philosophy is simple, we create thoughtfully considered dishes with quality ingredients that explore flavours from both countries."

- Woongchul Park, Co-owner & Chef of Sollip





2. What do you aim to bring to London’s culinary scene with Sollip?


Our ultimate goal is to create a unique and memorable dining experience.


As Koreans, our identity, style, and background make Sollip special. Working together as a husband-and-wife team, our touch is present in every aspect of the food and the restaurant. As chefs and owners, we ensure that our vision is reflected in every detail. We have a small but strong team which I believe really translates into the guest experience.




3. How does both your Korean roots influence your work ethic or your craft?


Everyone is somewhat influenced by where they come from and it explains why they do what they do. Being Korean influences me in the flavours I want to use when I cook, and the dishes I create. My ethos is based on my background and experiences so obviously there are elements I bring back from Korea, but not only. My cooking style is very much bound to my passion for food and my desire to innovate and experiment. Korean cuisine is all about balance - the harmony of spicy, sweet, sour and umami. What is interesting here at Sollip is that we bring these Korean elements and implement them in European/French recipes, a concept that I think is still fairly unique. We like the idea of bringing something different to the UK dining scene, embracing our heritage, the dishes that inspire us and our techniques to balance it all out.





4. What’s the key to a good work-life balance as a married couple founding and running a Michelin-starred restaurant together?


Respect and communication.


As we’re both chefs and co–owners of Sollip, we share each other’s day to day, which are the happy times but also the struggles and challenges. The good thing is that Bomee and I are similar in our personalities, so the vision and direction we have for Sollip is pretty much the same. For example, when designing a menu, we tend to agree on the flavours and ingredients we want to use as our culinary preferences are very much aligned.


Bomee and I have an immense mutual trust in each other's abilities and are true in the determination we have to support each other, no matter what. What I think is key for us is that we always engage in open communication to find compromise and balance in everything we do.





"Bomee and I have an immense mutual trust in each other's abilities and are true in the determination we have to support each other, no matter what."

- Woongchul Park, Co-owner & Chef of Sollip






5. Can you describe your creative process when crafting a new menu?


A lot of the dishes we put on the menu are our all-time favourites, which we’ve reworked in our own way (giving it a “Sollip” touch), playing around with spices, taste notes, mouthfeel, etc. Essentially, we cook what we love to eat and aim to bring the best of both Korean and French gastronomies together as we feel so strongly passionate about both of them.


We like to experiment and innovate and especially bring the element of surprise onto our guests’ plates. We generally do that by using ingredients that can only be sourced in Korea in dishes that are traditionally made in France or Europe or use locally grown / sourced produce in typical Korean recipes. In the end it is all a matter of balance.






6. What does Sollip mean to you?


Sollip is my dream come true. I always find it challenging to define what inspired us the most to create Sollip, as the restaurant is the result of shared values, talents and passions of my wife Bomee and I. We both always had big ambitions for our future as chefs, and so we focused our passion and efforts to develop a concept that was truly ours.

Day to day, we lead and inspire each other and when things get tough, we motivate one another. From a professional standpoint, you could say that we are each other's greatest influencers and companions and Sollip is a reflection of that.






"Day to day, we lead and inspire each other and when things get tough, we motivate one another. From a professional standpoint, you could say that we are each other's greatest influencers and companions and Sollip is a reflection of that."

- Woongchul Park, Co-owner & Chef of Sollip







7. How would you describe the dining scene at Sollip?


Sollip is designed in a minimalist style. We like to keep it simple. We use a mix of French and Korean crockery, floral arrangements are made seasonally by a designer who is also Korean and organises decorations for the tables and across the restaurant. It is a peaceful space where people can relax and really enjoy a great meal.


The character of Sollip comes from a combination of minimalistic design, the food we make, the service our front of house provides and how our experience is built to immerse our guests in our universe.


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All imagery is provided by Goya Communications.


All image credits go to Rebecca Dickson.



Address: Unit 1, 8 Melior Street, London, SE1 3QP | Website: sollip.co.uk | Email: info@sollip.co.uk | Instagram: @sollip_restaurant | Facebook: @solliprestaurant

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