Major: Culinary Arts
Job Title: Executive Chef
Location: San Francisco, CA
Deuki Hong, former executive chef of the New York City outpost of Kang Ho Dong Baekjong, developed an interest in cooking in middle school and, at the age of 15, was hired by Chef Aarón Sanchez to work in the kitchen at Centrico in Tribeca. Sanchez told the budding chef, “You have to go to culinary school.” So, Deuki went home and searched for the best culinary college in the world and found The Culinary Institute of America.
“I wanted to go to the number one school, and the more I learned about the college the more I knew it was for me,” Deuki says. “I got to dive into cooking 24/7. It’s like a chefs playground. I was surrounded by the best of the best and I just absorbed everything.” He even contributed to the curriculum. “Chef Michael Pardus ’81, chef-instructor of the Cuisines of Asia class, asked me if I had any Korean recipes. I gave him my mom’s spicy chicken stew recipe and he liked it so much that it became part of the class. I thought ‘I can cook food from my childhood and it will be accepted.’ It gave me the confidence to do Korean food.”
“There is a lot of wisdom in teaching the basics and fundamentals and no other school does it better than the CIA. The school offers so much but it’s what you take from it that makes all the difference,” he says. “Spend time in the library and use all of the advantages the school has to offer. There is a treasure chest of knowledge at your fingertips. And being part of CIA’s alumni network is like being in a fraternity, a fellowship. There’s an instant connection. One of the greatest assets the CIA has is the network of alumni in the top kitchens all over the world. Cooking is global and can take you anywhere you want to go.”
In January 2017, Deuki decided it was time to move on from the wildly popular Baekjong and relocate to San Francisco. Currently he is creating exquisite Korean fried chicken at indefinite pop-up Sunday Bird; popcorn chicken dumplings at Mimi Cheng’s; and scouting locations for a new Korean BBQ restaurant in the Bay area.
“I was fortunate to meet the right people who put me on the path to where I am now. My education from the CIA gave me all the tools I need for success. For me, it’s all about the people and customers, and the hospitality you bring to the table.”