Chef is a heavy word. People who spend their lives in the food industry, most likely, have staunch opinions about the term. We know what it means and we know the message it can hold. We chose to use the term irreverently for many reasons and probably anger hard core traditionalists in doing so. C'est la vie. Chefs come to Polly's Paladar in many different ways. We operate primarily by the seat of our pants with a solid criteria to hold us up in the ever changing waters of the culinary world. These innovative and courageous chefs sometimes travel from far places and step right into the Paladar world and sometimes they are right here among us locals quietly cooking genius. To all of our brave men and women who become Paladar chefs, we salute you.
Julya Shin & Steve Joo
NOKNI is basically Korean and authentically us. Steve and Julya met at Chez Panisse over ten years ago and are now making a fresh representation of Korean roots grown in Northern California. The food centers around Ssam- It means “wrapped,” and is one particularly and especially pleasurable way of eating Korean food.
AS A YOUNG GIRL, JULYA IDENTIFIED WITH HER KOREAN HERITAGE PRIMARILY THROUGH COOKING WITH HER GREAT AUNT. THEY WOULD SPEND HOURS TOGETHER FORAGING FOR WILD GREENS AND CLEANING DIRTY GLOBS OF WILD SCALLIONS TO PREPARE AS BANCHAN. AFTER NINE YEARS AT THE HELM OF OAKLAND’S PIZZAIOLO AND PENROSE, SHE IS READY TO CHANNEL HER DEEP LOVE OF KOREAN FOOD WITH PASSION.
STEVE’S FIRST FOOD LOVE IS SWEET AND TANGY AMERICAN BBQ. IT WAS PROBABLY THAT MEMORABLE IMPACT THAT SPAWNED A LIFETIME OF ENTHUSIASTIC EATING AND EVENTUAL CAREER AS A COOK AND A CHEF. AFTER BEING CHEF DE CUISINE OF MICHELIN-STARRED TERRA RESTAURANT AND TRAVELING THROUGH THE SOUTH KOREAN PENINSULA FOR ONE YEAR TO LEARN ABOUT AUTHENTIC KOREAN FLAVORS, HE IS EXCITED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE EVER-GROWING CONVERSATION ABOUT KOREAN FOOD.
Together, Julya and Steve are popping up in Oakland as they prepare for their restaurant, Nokni.