The project is led by Lee Sun-ho, the son of CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun who joined Cheiljedang in 2013 after graduating from Columbia University in the U.S. The 33-year-old, who currently serving as the head of the company's food strategy planning team, has earlier unveiled his ambitious plan to enable people around the world to enjoy Korean food more than once or twice a week.
Cheiljedang is the first domestic firm to exceed food sales of 10 trillion won ($7.47 billion) in food sales in 2022. The company which gained global popularity through a Korean cuisine brand called "Bibigo" achieved 11.1 trillion won in 2022, up 16.1 percent from a year ago. The Bibigo brand provides various food items including dumplings, kimchi, a traditional fermented vegetable dish, and Jeonbokjuk, a Korean-style porridge made with abalone.
Cheiljedang said in a statement that the company will launch the chef incubation project called "Cuisine. K" to support promising young chefs. The company will offer food ingredients, and financial support to a national team set to compete in the "2023 Korea International Cooking and Confectionery Competition" from May 19 to May 21. In the second half of 2023, Cheiljedang will provide an opportunity for young chefs who wish to start their own food businesses to run pop-up restaurants.
The project will also select members who would take part in food ingredient-related research programs with famous chefs and learn cooking techniques. The food company also aims to open Korean food-related courses at overseas cooking schools.
"This is my future dream, but I will upgrade the project into the establishment of a Korean food school where people from all over the world learn Korean food and culture, just like Le Cordon Bleu in France," Lee said during a speech on May 2. The Paris-based cooking school founded in 1895 has more than 35 institutes in 20 countries.
Targeting the global market, Cheiljedang has acquired several foreign companies such as Kahiki Foods, an Ohio-based maker of packaged and frozen Asian foods, and Mainfrost of Germany. In 2022, Cheiljedang's overseas food sales surpassed 5 trillion won.
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