Jason Jonggun Kang, My Degree Takes me Around the World
CIA Alumni Bio
“The CIA is of course the ultimate place to go for people who love to cook. There is love for food in every corner of the campus—even in the air.”
How did you become interested in cooking?
I started my career in the Navy cooking on a military vessel. It wasn’t my wish to be a cook back then, and it was a challenging time, as all military life can be. However, thanks to working on that ship, I was able to travel around the world serving food for foreign government officers. That experience made me realize that becoming a chef would be the perfect job for me, as I could work in many countries and serve food to make people happy.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I wasn’t planning to attend the CIA at the beginning. I had a chance to travel to New York and one of my colleague mentioned it would be nice just to have a look at the CIA campus. Then magic happened! I fell in love with the beautiful campus and delicious food smells in the air. Also, I saw passionate students in the kitchens and classrooms with looks of pride on their faces. I just wanted to be one of them.
What is your most cherished memory in CIA?
The day of my graduation, of course! I still feel thrilled when I recall standing on the stage and throwing my chef toque.
How did you decide to go to China?
First, I wanted experience life in China as I love to travel around the world. Second, I had a call from the Kempinski Hotel general manager asking me to join him there.
How did a CIA education help prepare you for a role in food business and hospitality?
Of course, I learned all the kitchen basics—like how to hold chef knife correctly—at the college. But beside that, the time I spent at CIA led me to see further about my career and widened my professional perspective. It also led me to respect the chefs. And most important, it made me humble.
What’s it like to work in another country?
For me, working in another country is always full of excitement, as every day I find something new. Sometimes it can be challenging but it definitely helps me to grow and allows me to enjoy our differences.
What do you like about China?
China, especially Shenzhen where I am now, is full of energy. Everywhere you go, you find energetic young people, including my kitchen team. They are so impassioned about their work and always try to learn something new to grow.
What advice would you give to a prospective student, especially international, who is considering attending the CIA?
The CIA is of course the ultimate place to go for people who love to cook. There is love for food in every corner of the campus—even in the air. However, it is not the college that makes you “chef.” There are tendencies for new graduates to pretend they are chefs right away. But the CIA helps you to build your potential to become a chef, but being a chef requires working day after day in a kitchen, building that experience.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned while at the CIA?
The best lesson I learned at the CIA is that cooking food should always be full of love. It makes my life more colorful and meaningful in every aspect, both professionally and personally. And being a CIA graduate is fantastic!
Chef Jason Jonggun Kang majored in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, NY. Chef Kang is the chef de cuisine at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts in Shenzhen City, Guangdong, China.