Who are you?
I go by the name Dana Choi. I am living and working in Korea, I am half Korean and half Dutch. I am a health advocate, certified raw vegan chef, and an artist. I like to make music and paint and create raw vegan foods that are delicious and spread the word about the benefits of such healing foods to anyone that is interested in my passion.
What do you do? Tell us about your typical day.
I am a creative director in the F&B industry. I have a wide range of responsibilities so I do not usually have a typical day. I help communicate with our clients abroad and assist with importing products, other times I am planning for our brand events. I work on brand development, campaign launches, package design, product concept planning, marketing and I like to go in the field for R&D in creating new products. When there is a special yoga event or festival, I do like to teach raw vegan workshops and introduce the delicious food and the philosophies to people who are interested. Raw vegan food is still pretty new here in South Korea so I hope to educate and show it in a positive life.
How did it all start? How did you get into this industry?
I have always been interested in healthy foods and that is why I went to Matthew Kenney Culinary and Living Lights Culinary Institutes, which are both raw vegan culinary schools in California. One day I was sitting at the office and I ran out of the Yogi Tea that I brought back from Europe, that was also when I was taking my yoga teacher training course and I wanted to see if it was possible to import this tea to Korea. I ordered a selection and did some tastings with my classmates and it turns out that people really liked it so I started importing teas and that is how I got started.
What does “living your passion” mean to you?
To me it means that I have to follow what my heart wants me to do. Have a dream, a goal and keep that in mind as you try and navigate through your life. I enjoy what I do because it is a creative job for me, it involves meeting people and sharing cultures with one another. I have found balance in my life, I have my job during the day but when I get home, I have another life where I paint, make music and create experimental raw vegan food that I can share with friends and family.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is all around me! Ingredients in nature, a color chart, looking at art blogs, strong role models, reading about other people achieving their dreams and sometimes I find inspiration in myself; sometimes mistakes or failures can help you more than you realize at the time.
Passion or perseverance? Which is more important in achieving success?
For me if I am passionate about what I am doing I will automatically persevere because I am working towards a goal. It is important to keep that in mind but failure can also help shape and make a person stronger. There is a lesson in everything with accomplish or fail at.
What keeps you grounded?
For me it is my family, friends and my hobbies. I can sit and make a bag for hours and the same goes for making a music track or painting. These kinds of hobbies bring me back to myself and I am completely calm after and at the same time refueled.
What’s the most important piece of advice you can give for someone looking to “take the plunge” and live his or her passion?
To go ahead and plan it out. No matter how hard it gets, just remember you have to sacrifice and change how you have been doing things in order to accomplish something new. Do not get discouraged, it is easy to give up on your goals and quit, but to fight for what you want to accomplish takes a tough spirit and optimistic attitude. If things get too hard, take a moment to step away from whatever it is you are doing and return to it with a pair of fresh eyes. Nobody can create a company all by themselves so never feel ashamed to reach out and ask for help when you are stuck.
Anything exciting coming up in your agenda?
I have been collaborating with Italian executive chef Cristian Gallarello at Pizza Muzzo restaurant in Itaewon. We have been busy developing many healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes to add to their existing menu which is already amazing. Not only have I been given the opportunity to learn how to make authentic Italian dishes for example making pastas from scratch, I have been able to interest other chefs with my raw vegan treats. Korea has some vegetarian restaurants these days but raw vegan food is still not known to the mainstream yet. I hope to be able to show people that raw vegan cuisine can be both decadent and exciting when executed properly, it’s not like we serve up hummus and carrot sticks all day.
Coming summer, there will be a fine dining restaurant launch called Section A and you will be able to treat your palate to visually appealing foods that are crafted using many different culinary techniques. We want to serve edible art in Section A, and I have been lucky enough to be able to be part of this culinary adventure.
Aside from the restaurants collaborations, I will also be holding raw vegan workshops at TaoYoga in Apgujeong. I will be posting any upcoming ones on social media so follow on and stayed tuned.
Follow Dana on Instagram at @Danaaustinchoi and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/