Cook show craze is sweeping Korea.

Guess who is the hottest entertainer in TV these days in Korea. K-pop idol? Sexy actress? No! It’s CHEF! From 2006 when Olive TV, the only food lifestyle channel in Korea, was launched, various cooking programs starring professional and amateur chefs have drawn viewers’ attention more and more. The term ‘Chef-tainer’ has been coined recently, reflecting their growing popularity in show business.

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   Starting from cooking contest shows to culinary evaluation shows, numerous programs with various formats focus on cooking processes. Instead of simply showing complete dishes for tasting, the shows usually feature the whole cooking process from the start like choosing menus and preparing ingredients. During this process, characteristics of individual chefs are revealed unexpectedly, adding more fun and making the programs more vivid and live.

   Here are some Cook shows that everybody knows in Korea.

   First is “What Are We Eating Today?” on Olive channel, which introduces essential instructions for home meals that are easy to follow from home.

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  This 30-minute show not only delivers cooking recipes with information, but also focuses on the natural yet hilarious interaction between MC Shin Dongyup, a comedian skilled in making funny situations by his wordplay, and MC Sung Sikyung, a singer excellent at cooking with comprehensive knowledge. Every Thursday, they invite famous local chefs to learn their secret know-hows.

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The show is aired every Monday and Thursday 12AM and 8 PM on Olive Channel.

Second is “Three Meals A Day” on TvN, a program showing farming life carried out by celebrities who had never been to farm before.

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   Located in Oksoonbong in Jeongseon, the countryside famous for its transparent green Cheongpoong lake, the show features the cast, Ok Taecyeon and Lee Suhjin as main MC, living a rural life isolated from the city. The unique thing about this seemingly-boring-but-actually-funny show is that the crew has to not only cook the menu with natural ingredients but also cultivate or catch items from the start. Currently, the cast from the season 3 of Three Meals A Day just finished planting seeds of corn and other vegetables. Guests are invited in almost every episode, adding up the liveliness of the show. The spinoff of this show “Three Meals A Day – Fishing Village’ was also very popular, featuring Cha Seungwon, Yu Haejin, and Son Hojoon.

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   The show is aired every Friday 9:45 PM on TvN Channel.

   Last but not least is “Please Take Care of My Refrigerator.”

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   Unlike two shows mentioned above, Please Take Care of My Refrigerators star real professional chefs famous in the cooking industry. When celebrity guests are invited to the show and bring their refrigerators, the 8 chefs have to compete with one another by cooking dishes with items only from the refrigerators in 15 minutes. This breathtaking competition among the chefs shows the glimpse of professional cooking, making the viewers awed by the creativity and taste of the complete dishes.

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   The show is aired every Monday at 9:40 PM on JTBC Channel.

  The cook shows’ influences are incredible among people. When chefs appear on TV, their restaurants or shops become popular so much that making a reservation becomes necessary. Some chefs actually serve the menu that they cooked in cook shows. Why don’t you visit their restaurants? You may have luck to see them in person.

Chef Choi Hyunseok’s Elbon the Table

In Elbon the Table, you can taste Chef Choi Hyunseok’s creative dishes while enjoying seeing cooks in an open kitchen. Steak with 5 kinds of salt is a recommended dish for meat lovers.

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Chef Mihal Spasov Ashminov’s Zelen

Zelen is an authentic Bulgarian restaurant run by two Bulgarian brothers. Not only their menu but also the traditional Bulgarian interior of the restaurant will give you a short trip to Bulgaria.

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