Sundays in Seoul: Free Cooking Class at CJ Food World


This past Sunday I attended a free cooking class at CJ Food World, in Dongdaemun, a famous shopping area in northeastern Seoul.


CJ Food World is the national headquarters of brands like Tous les Jours (Canadians: think a French-inspired, self-serve version of Tim Horton’s) and Twosome Place (a Starbucks-esque “dessert cafe”). They also have an in-house cooking studio, where the class I was in took place.


I found out about the cooking class through a group called Community Korea. They have a very active facebook presence, and regularly advertise events, contests, and sales for foreigners. This was the first time I’d attended one of the events they’d promoted, and I was really excited. I’d won the class from an online draw (been so lucky lately!).

So, I took a bus from outside my school right to the CJ Food HQ:

CJ Food World  Upon arriving, we were led into a meeting room which had free coffee and tea (silly me, I’d already spent $4 on a soy vanilla latte – but in my defense, it’s not often you see one of those on a cafe menu here in Korea!).


After the meeting room, we were ushered into the cooking studio, where we began cooking our Lunar New Year-themed dishes, “doenjang goggi buchu jeon” (soybean pancake with chives) and “haemul beoseot soondubu jeongol” (Seafood & mushroom soft tofu stew).



The chef presented a lively and engaging cooking demo. His English was really good; turns out he’d spent several years as a restauranteur in the US.

ƒÌ≈∑≈¨∑°Ω∫130203copix43We were supposed to pair up, so I went with a girl I’d met at an event the weekend prior; 10 Magazine’s Sunday book club (which featured Michael Breen, author of “the Koreans”).

That’s us below:ƒÌ≈∑≈¨∑°Ω∫130203copix25

Our dishes!


The rest of the participants…ƒÌ≈∑≈¨∑°Ω∫130203copix28

All in all, it was a lot of fun! The organizers had altered the dishes a bit to make them appeal to foreign tastes though. A couple of us noticed this, as the mixture they’d provided actually had sugar added, giving the pancakes an unusually sweet flavour.  As well, we were given beef to use in our pancakes, another non-traditional addition to the original Korean recipe. The chef noted during the demo that they wanted to “spoil” us foreigners (hence the beef), but I think many of us would’ve just preferred the traditional version! But, it was so thoughtful of them to go the extra mile.


The chef explained several times throughout the demo that since Korean food is too often overshadowed by “sushi” (Japanese food) and Chinese food, the goal of the class was to try and make Korean food appeal more to foreigners. Part of this was promoting a new line of products, which essentially cut out half of the prep involved in cooking many popular Korean foods (which traditionally take more work than other Asian cuisines). Some of these included Korean BBQ marinades, soup stocks, and hotteok (Korean sugar pancake) mix.

To cap off the lesson, we all gathered for a few photo ops coordinated by a very serious Korean photographer. Actually, it kind of reminded me of the “Suntory Time” scene from one of my favourite movies, “Lost in Translation” (clip below).

Of course, it was very different because it was set in Japan, and my cooking class was in Korea 🙂 Korea and Japan are very different. Dokdo is Korean. My Korean friends would be very proud of me right now 🙂

ƒÌ≈∑≈¨∑°Ω∫130203copix03Some of the products that we used:ƒÌ≈∑≈¨∑°Ω∫130203copix05

Anyways, probably the best part of the day was getting the freebie pack they sent us home with! Holy guacamole, Korea LOVES too give out free stuff to foreigners!


What the f-ck am I going to do with all this kimchi… It’s a non-resealable bag, by the way.


They even gave us thank you cards!

“Thank you for your time” – seriously? You gave us a free cooking class, plus what I’m estimating was around 30,000w ($30) worth of free samples. My pleasure!



Korean Cosmetics Haul #2 (Face Shop, Innisfree, Skinfood, Etude House, Too Cool for School)

So, after being here in Seoul for six months, I’ve found some pretty good (and pretty horrible) Korean cosmetic products.

The biggest things I’ve learned? Well, Korean mascara is horrible (although I can’t say I wasn’t warned), hair products are generally non-existent (specifically heat protect) and I should’ve started using Skinfood earlier.

I’d actually been avoiding Skinfood for a while because their whole brand and packaging “look” never appealed to me. Actually, it seemed kind of tacky. I knew the premise was that most of the products were made from food products (quinoa body lotion, ginseng face mask, sugar cookie blush, etc) but I never thought of going in until I read some good things about a few of their products online. After buying the products, I was very impressed. They also gave me a ton of freebies – as in, more than you’d usually get at a Korean cosmetics shop – so of course that had a positive influence on me!

The products I’m going to review today are:

  • Innisfree: No-Sebum Mineral Powder ★★★★★
  • Etude House: Drawing Show Brush Liner ★★★
  • Too Cool for School: Dinoplatz Lost Identity Lipstick ★★★
  • Etude House: Lash Perm Volume Mascara ★
  • The Face Shop: Anti-Trouble Spot ★★
  • The Face Shop: Face It – Oil Concealer, Dual Veil ★★★★
  • The Face Shop: Tea Tree Oil Spot Corrector ★
  • The Face Shop: Blemish Zero – Clarifying Toner ★★★
  • Skinfood: Black Sugar Scrub ★★★★★
  • Skinfood: Argan Oil Silk Hair Mask Pack ★★★★
  • The Face Shop: One Step BB Cleanser (Cleansing Oil – Foam) ★★★

My apologies for not putting them in order!


Innisfree: No-Sebum Mineral Powder ★★★★★

Definitely an HG product! I think it’s supposed to be used more as blot powder, but I’ve started using it as an all-over finishing powder instead of MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish Natural. The two are very similar, except MAC’s version costs $25 CAD and Innisfree’s costs 8,000w (roughly $6.50 CAD), in addition to coming with a free applicator. Definitely going to stock up when I got back to Canada!

Pros: Lasts long, goes on sheer (good for any skin tone), really fights oil.

Cons: Pretty small, but still good for its value.


Etude House: Drawing Show Brush Liner ★★★

So, previously I was using the Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner (after having downgraded from MAC’s version, nearly triple the price). I’ve since downgraded to the Etude House version, and I find it’s pretty comparable.

Pros: Lasts long, easy to apply

Cons: Not as dark as MAC’s or Revlon’s version. I also prefer the stubbier applicator from Revlon as opposed to the longer one from Etude House (kind of between MAC and Revlon).




After smudging them…Image

Too Cool for School: Dinoplatz Lost Identity Lipstick ★★★

So the packaging here was just too awesome. I’d read about this lipstick that starts off green, then changes colour to match your lips. Had to buy it. However, when I applied it on my lips, it became too dark. I don’t like wearing a lot of colour on my lips because I usually go pretty dark with my eyes.

Pros: Awesome packaging

Cons: Expensive; too dark.








Etude House: Lash Perm Volume Mascara ★

Easily the worst mascara I’ve ever used. Clumpy, hard to apply, and just generally horrible. I tried using it then removed it immediately after. The stuff is awful.

Pros: Nothing (maybe the packaging, which I fell for)

Cons: Crappy applicator, super clumpy



The Face Shop: Anti-Trouble Spot ★★

I don’t have much to say about this; it’s not that great. It’s not horrible either; but it just doesn’t get rid of my acne. I’ve been using it together with the Tea Tree Oil Spot Corrector, so maybe I’ll try using it on its own in the future. I bought it because it was on sale.

Pros: Meh.

Cons: Meh.


The Face Shop: Face It – Oil Concealer, Dual Veil ★★★★

AMAZING, simply amazing. This stuff rocks! Covers up even the worst spots and under-eye circles. I’ve heard some people comparing it to Urban Decay or MAC, which is why I bought it. Affordable and super effective. Great design too.

Pros: Cheap, lasts long, great dual-applicator tips.

Cons: Nothing really.



The Face Shop: Tea Tree Oil Spot Corrector ★

Also a “meh” product, bought solely because it was on sale. Produces no noticeable results.

Pros: Meh.

Cons: Mehh.


The Face Shop: Blemish Zero Clarifying Toner 

A pretty decent product; good for the people like me who want to reduce redness (but not bleach the face in the process). Got it on sale a few months ago; great value for size.

Pros: Reduces redness and trouble spots “sans-brightening” (aka: non-bleaching)

Cons: Not all that strong


Skinfood: Black Sugar Scrub Foam 

This product warrants a heart-felt OMG. Wow. Seriously though, this is my new HG scrub. It works magically. My skin is SO soft after using it, and my foundation/primer even goes on easier the morning after. I only use it about once a week. It’s one of Skinfood’s top sellers.

Pros: Doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin, produces AWESOME results, little product needed. Also very affordable!!

Cons: None!!!


Skinfood: Argan Oil – Silk Hair Mask Pack 

This treatment is pretty awesome. Not quite as effective as my HG hair treatment (Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat Treatment) but still pretty good. It’s hard to find decent hair products in Korea. Maybe it’s because all Korean girls have enviably thick and shiny hair naturally and don’t need to use treatments, heat protect, and the like. In any case, this mask pack is a lifesaver. Works great on my extensions.

Pros: Cheap. Works well, makes hair shiny without weighing it down.

Cons: You need to use a lot of product to get results.


The Face Shop: One Step BB Cleanser (Cleansing Oil – Foam) 

Finally a half-decent product that doesn’t turn my skin into a pasty mess or make me break out! Hurray. It cleanses deep without irritating the skin. Definitely going to buy it again.

Pros: Removes foundation really well. Good for sensitive skin.

Cons: Not that great for reducing trouble.