Can you believe that there are people who have been searching for local bakeries in Korea for as many as seven years? The interviewee below, Jeong Eunjin is well informed about the competition between local bakeries and large franchise bakeries. She has also published a book about local bakeries. The Inha Times met ‘Ppangsaeng Ppangsa’ charity event creator Jeong Eunjin who lives or dies by bread. We talked about her enjoying the bread life.
The Inha times(IT)： What occasion made you start your 'Bread Tour'?
Jeong Eunjin : I wish I could say it was a dramatic reason, but I just started for the love of bread. Ever since I was young, my father often bought tasty bread on the way home from work. So we – all four siblings and my mother – began to like bread and I grew up concerned about the bread we eat. Beginning to find a bakery with delicious bread in earnest was about 7 years ago. I wanted to share the information in more detail, so eventually I started a blog. That was about 6 years ago. As I exchanged information with my sister who teaches about baking in the United States, I was able to get a lot of information about bread; it has been helpful in my blog.
IT： What made you set up the 'Ppangsaeng Ppangsa' charity event? How about the reaction to charity events?
Jeong Eunjin : I opened Internet cafe 'Ppangsaeng Ppangsa‘ in June 2012, expecting it would be cool for people who love bread to be able to share stories together. It was good that there was an opportunity to share the news about bakeries across the country through the cafe. While I was running the cafe, I suddenly thought the idea that people who like bread could get together to extend help to the poor. Luckily, some bakery boss expressed an intention of support, so 'Ppangsaeng Ppangsa’ charity event was started. Charity events, started in December 2012, and the third was held last December. Charity event participants can pay the entry fee to eat bread from local bakeries like at a buffet. Proceeds of the benefit events are delivered once to the 'Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill', and 2-3 times in the 'The Child Center of Seoul'. This event is an opportunity for people who make bread and like bread to come together to share their experience. Through charity events, participants can eat the delicious bread from local bakeries, and they may help by paying admission fees. Everybody enjoyed the event. Due to limited space only about 200 people attended, so I hope to hold the next event at a bigger place.
IT： What is the selection criteria for the 36 local bakeries in your book?
Jeong Eunjin : ‘Taste' is not absolute for anyone. Because everyone has personal taste, everyone can't agree on what is really delicious to me. Therefore, bakeries in the book weren’t seleceted only according to taste. I chose bakeries that I wanted to receive invitations from. And I also picked them according to specific menus. This is because specialized breads in bakeries vary. In addition, kindness and sanitation are important factors along with taste. And the more bakeries with appetizing breads that I visited, helped me to find little-known bakeries that I included in the book.
IT： Was it difficult to create a bakery subway map?
Jeong Eunjin : It wasn't hard because I picked the places that I liked. The most difficult thing was to arrange the list of places I visited. That was because I had visited quite a number of bakeries over the past seven years.
IT： What is the difference between a successful local bakery and a typical local bakery?
Jeong Eunjin : Nowadays, the geographical location is not critical, unlike in the past. As it is easy to find a location map with the spread of smartphones, rumors of great bakeries is spreading, and many people go looking for them. I think, eventually, the key to 'keeping the flavor‘ is competitiveness. In the early days, it was hard for bakeries to maintain a unique taste. By losing the original characteristics, bakeries turned out tasteless breads, so people's attention dropped away. Another important factor is the use of good quality ingredients. These days, people are very interested about what goes into breads. Many bakeries aren't using chemical additives; they’re using organic flour now and antibiotic-free eggs. Since the flavor is better in their products, there are more people who understand the importance of the flour. Also, as bakery owners are using SNS for promotion, their local bakeries are becoming more popular. So, the bottom line is taste. The flavor seems to be something that has been loved for a long time.
IT： What are your plans for the future?
Jeong Eunjin : My plans are to publish a magazine four times a year for people who love bread. As I’m learning more about bakeries, I want to inform readers about the 'loving bread culture' as a part of popular culture among consumer and bakers. I want to include various contents about bread, not only the little-known bakery information, but also things like my local bakery tours, stories of the chefs, the harmonization of bread and coffee, etc. When making the quarterly magazine, I will continue to upgrade the map and I want to explore the planning and marketing work that goes into making the most delicious bread.
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