This is our founder and YUMCHI visionary Lily Hirasawa
a.k.a Kimchi Queen ♕
Lily's calm, mindful energy, deep knowledge & passion of kimchi are inspiring. She was born in Japan with a Korean mother and grew up in Hong Kong before moving to the UK at the age of nine.
YUMCHI is a story of family, friendship, tradition and courage. And the women in her life who have instilled in her a love of fermented foods. Lily learnt to make kimchi from her mother, who in turn learnt it from her mother. And it was Lily's auntie who infused devotion for the art of fermentation.
After graduating from Leith's School of Food & Wine in London, Lily's experiences working in the organic food industry and her unforgettable visit to a Buddhist monastery in Seoul, meant she decided it was time to share her family's kimchi with the world.
YUMCHI was born in 2016 and we're happy to report that the Kimchi that Lily learnt continues its journey in London, bringing together Asian flavours and sustainable local production methods.
Lily currently pursues a Master’s degree in Buddhist Studies at SOAS University with a focus on mindfulness meditation and the development of early yogic practices.
So what is kimchi exactly? .
Kimchi is an ethnic fermented vegetable dish made with natural lactic fermentation, similair to the fermentation process of the familiar probiotic yoghurt. Kimchi is a dish in itself, but can also be used as a pickle, a cooking sauce and an accompaniment to a wide range of host foods.
Kimchi is the national dish of Korea..
Featured at every meal, kimchi is consumed daily by 95 percent of Koreans—2 million tons of kimchi eaten domestically every year (IMF 2014).
Inscribed by UNESCO as a world intangible heritage in 2013 and 2015, kimchi unites the contentious South and North Korean cultures, and is a source of pride and ethics for both those familiar with kimchi.
Kimchi-making, known in Korea as Kim-jiang, is mainly transmitted between women, from mothers to daughters or mothers-in-law to daughters-in-law, or among housewives. It is at its essence a neighbourly endeavor, encouraging communities to work collectively, contributing to social cohesion, bringing patrons a sense of joy and pride, as well as respect for the natural environment, encouraging them to lead their lives in harmony with each other and with nature (UNESCO 2014).
Kimchi’s versatility and resonance with popular culture is undeniable. Kimchi aroused global interest in 2008, when it was sent into space to accompany Korea’s first astronaut (The New York Times 2008).
Japan is the biggest importer of kimchi in the world, with 90% of Korean kimchi exported to Japan and a rising percentage from China. The Japanese preference for kimchi and Korean food may be likened to the British affinity for Indian cuisines.