You might recognize Laura Lee as a familiar face in the local culinary community. She spent several years in the kitchens of local restaurants before leaving Columbus on a culinary journey. But now she’s back and opening a new food truck called Ajumama, which specializes in authentic Korean food.
Their first official day of business will take place on Monday, April 30th outside the St. James Tavern. We caught up with Laura to find out what drew her back to Columbus and what caused her to want to open her own food truck business. Read on for the full Q&A:
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your culinary background?
A: I have a degree in Culinary Arts as well as a bachelors in Hospitality Managment and have been in the industry in one form or another for 12 years. I was part of the opening staff at Latitude 41, and worked for Zen Cha for a year before taking a sous chef position in San Diego.
Q: So you left for San Diego, but came back to Columbus — why was that?
A: I took the position in San Diego thinking that I would be able to broaden skills not only in a leadership position but in food as well. What I found was people there were not nearly as adventurous as we are here in Columbus and did not have the same widespread love and appreciation for food in general. Here we celebrate and anticipate things like Sweet Corn and Blackberry ice cream, there it gets a lot of funny looks and “eww”s.
Q: So what led you to starting up a food truck?
A: ECDI and Food Fort of course! I was still following Columbus Underground while living in California and when I read about what was happening here with a small business incubator geared toward food and knew that I wanted to be a part of it. My family is also here and they are a big part of the business, so don’t be surprised if my mom is working the window.
Q: What can you tell us a bit about your food concept?
A: Ajumama is all about Korean street food. Not the traditional-style BBQ or large meals that a lot of places here in Columbus do very well, but more like the quick snacks and meals you would find at a street vendor in Seoul. Some menu items have a little bit of an American twist, but we are striving to be as authentic as we can.
Q: What sort of specialities will you be featuring?
A: Two of our specialties are recipes that I spent most of the end of last year developing- Pajeon and Hodduk. Pajeon is a crispy, savory pancake with different types of meat, garlic chives and other veggies mixed in. Hodduk is a sweet and chewy griddle cake stuffed with brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts that melt when cooked. We will also be making items like Kimbop (stuffed rice rolls), Ddukbokki (rice cakes in spicy sauce), and Jigae (Kimchi based soup). As local products starts to come into season we will utilize that for specials as well.
Q: Where will our readers be able to find you?
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: If you want to read a little bit more about how we came to be you can check our article on Seoul Eats, which is run by Daniel Gray who I met a few years ago in Seoul. He was kind enough to let me write some posts for his blog.
More information can be found online at Ajumama.com.
Photo provided by Chris Walker Photography. Chris Walker works as a on-Location commercial photographer working with cooperate, advertising, and editorial clients. If you would like to connect with Chris Walker Photography, email CW@CWalkerPhotography.com, or visit www.CWalkerPhotography.com.