Jieun’s Culinary Journey to Paris Baguette
Jieun Lee, Research & Development Manager
Bonjour! I’m Jieun, Paris Baguette’s Research & Development Manager – Menu and food stylist. My passion for making, baking and cooking started in my early 20s where I was introduced to the culinary world through time spent in the kitchen of a 5-star hotel. That gave me the appetite to pursue bigger dreams of becoming a professional chef so I headed to The Culinary Institute of America. After graduating, I had a big heart and ambition to put myself in the highest level of the culinary world. Luckily, I had opportunities to work at two of the most renowned, Michelin starred restaurants in New York City and the world, Jean-Georges and DANIEL.
My time spent in these master kitchens was invaluable and ignited my curiosity to learn a new side of the culinary world. Cue, research and development for Paris Baguette, a kitchen I have worked in for close to 8 years now to create new menu items that have been added to our growing number of U.S. neighborhood bakery cafes.
As a foodie, I continuously seek new flavors, especially while traveling. Experiencing other cultures gives me unexpected inspiration and motivation. And, like many culinary professionals, my inspiration for developing new menu items often comes from visual images, as much as it comes from dishes, ingredients and flavors. I get ideas from a plethora of places; social media leads me to some “right now” inspiration and books like “Flavor Bible” keep me grounded in tradition. In my position, I think about a meal or item with a 360 view: preparation, taste, and visual appeal. When I make a sandwich or salad, I put effort into styling heights, angles, and color, which I view equally as important as the food’s taste. I prefer to use color contrasts rather than repeating patterns, and offer different food cutting styles, which give foods different looks and textures and are cool to pull through in photography. I’m a visual eater, one might say.
When it comes to recipe development, I personally love sweet and spicy combinations, which you’ll see in a few of our menu items. I developed the Paris Baguette honey glazed chipotle chicken sandwich with mozzarella and roasted pepper, a personal favorite that guests are raving about. The sweetness from honey marries well with the spiciness from chipotle, providing a great balance for your palate, and hopefully evoking a smile on your face when you’ve finished it!
It’s exciting to continually be thinking about the seasons and fresh ingredients that we can pull into our menus. I always look forward to the fall and winter recipes because both seasons include so many family and friend gathering moments and holidays. It evokes memories of hearty food and being together with loved ones. I dream about how we can pull those rich ingredients like turkey, brie cheese, cranberries, apples, cinnamon, chestnuts and more into our menu items that guests will ask for year-over-year.