Chef-owner Cho Hee-sook of Hansikgonggan in Seoul, South Korea has been hailed as Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2020 by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. The award-giving body is an annual list of notable restaurants across Asia curated by over 300 industry influencers, experts, and leaders. 

“Having mentored many young chefs throughout my career, I hope this award serves as an inspiration for other Asian female chefs to follow their passions, be ambitious, and share their knowledge with others,” says Cho.

A respected authority and “godmother” of traditional Korean cuisine, a large part of her career is dedicated to training young chefs as a way to preserve her country’s traditional culinary techniques and heirloom recipes.

Cho worked in Seoul hotels such as Novotel Gangnam, Grand Intercontinental, and Hotel Silla before she was appointed executive chef at the South Korean Embassy in Washington D.C. She returned to Korea in 2006 and became a professor at Woosong University until 2008. 

Cho opened her royal court cuisine restaurant Hansikgonggan in 2019. With a vision to forward traditional Korean gastronomy, Cho found a way to incorporate history with her modern take on cooking, as seen in her choice of ingredients, fine-dining elements, and aesthetic. 

“The Best Female Chef award celebrates female chefs whose dedication, skills, and creativity set new standards in gastronomic excellence. Cho Hee-sook epitomizes the spirit of this award with her lifelong commitment to advancing Korean cuisine through training, education, and mentorship,” says Wiliam Drew, director of content of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Cho will receive her accolade during the awarding ceremony on Mar. 24 in Japan.