Chef Jae Bang is challenging typical
When asking what the key ingredient is to good food, I expected a typical ‘chef’ answer like ‘salt’… I should have known better, because Jae Bang is anything but your typical cuisinier.
The Korean born chef actually landed in the kitchen by accident. Never intending to become a chef, the fast-paced restaurant world reeled him closer as his career gained momentum. Stints in America, Spain and Norway sharpened his skill and enriched his experience across numerous venues and cuisines.
Bang oversaw operations at Sven Erik Renaa’s self-titled restaurant in Stavanger, Norway, an enterprise now sporting two Michelin stars, gained during Bang’s four-year tenure.
Now, Bang heads up Freyja, guiding the restaurant’s Nordic approach to Australian dining.
Much like Bang himself, Freyja is atypical.
Named after the Norse goddess of both death and love, Freyja offers multiple contradictions. The space and food bring together contemporary and traditional elements to create what can only be described as future classics.
Shirking the ‘pickled and fermented’ stereotype that so often is pegged to Nordic food, Bang’s menu manages to remain upscale, yet approachable with recognisable ingredients treated to the divine complexities of Bang’s techniques which vary from modern, cutting edge to the more primitive and time honored.
But food itself is the lowest priority for Bang, with his move to Melbourne and the Norse goddess motivated by a human element.
“Good food is easy to come by. My passion within the industry has gradually changed and evolved. More than the food side, it’s about the people.
“Previously, ‘people’ meant the guest, I think the focal point now is the staff. If our employees feel comfortable and confident in their workplace, there is no doubt that they will perform better.”
Brought to life by Work Club Global, Bang’s attitude is an extension of the organisation’s wider modus operandi – to change the way we work.
Reflecting on his first meeting with Soren Trampedach, Work Club’s Founder and CEO, Bang highlighted the similarities. “His vision towards this company and its employees really overlapped with my personal vision, and that’s a major reason why I was attracted to this venture. Food really was the lowest priority.”
And that secret ingredient to good food in Bang’s eyes?
Unsurprisingly inedible, it’s honesty.