Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2024

Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2024

Sung Anh

Mosu, Seoul

Pioneering a new wave of Korean fusion gastronomy

Sung Anh may have spent his earliest years running around kitchens, but the call to gastronomy was not an immediate one. Born in Seoul, Anh grew up with formative memories of his grandmother's Korean cooking inflected with Japanese influences before his family moved to live on the US West Coast.

In San Francisco, Anh found himself in kitchens again, helping his parents every day at their Chinese restaurant. Even then, becoming a chef never crossed his mind. A few years later, and still unsure of his path in life, he enlisted in the US military. After serving a tour of Iraq, he left his position with his sights set on becoming a Porsche mechanic. But all it took was a chance encounter with a group of chefs in their pristine whites and chequered pants for his focus to shift once more. He enrolled into culinary school, starting his first steps on the path to becoming a kitchen professional.

Anh spent the first half of his career honing his craft in some of San Francisco Bay’s finest kitchens – including Benu, Aziza and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Best of the Best alumnus, The French Laundry – before opening the first iteration of Mosu in 2015 in his adopted home of California. The restaurant earned immediate praise, gaining two Michelin stars within its first two years. Despite its success, Anh closed Mosu in 2017 to return to his birth country to be closer to his extended family, bringing his entire restaurant back with him.

In San Francisco, Mosu’s offering was undoubtedly American with only subtle hints of Korean cooking inspired by his childhood and heritage. In Seoul, Anh flipped the script to offer Korean-forward cuisine bolstered by his time spent in the US. The abalone taco – one of Mosu’s signature courses – is emblematic of this fusion of culinary influences. The dish was inspired by memories of travelling across the US border to eat street food in Tijuana as a teenager, but the execution and ingredients pull from an almost exclusively Korean palate, with yuba (dried tofu) acting as the ‘shell’ that’s then filled with grilled abalone and heaps of gamtae (seaweed).

Now, many years after Mosu’s Seoul homecoming and with an international branch opened in mid-2022 in Hong Kong, Anh has established himself as a driving force behind Korea’s burgeoning gastronomic renaissance. His unwavering narrative and highly personal cuisine, partnered with his indomitable personality, has helped to redefine a new era of innately Korean cooking that breaks the previous hegemony of international cuisines. Acknowledged by his peers as a visionary and role model of modern Asian gastronomy, Anh is rightly awarded the Inedit Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2024.