Chef Eric Choi uses his Kettle Brand collaboration to open a bigger flavor conversation, interview

Kettle Brand Sweet and Spicy Gochujang chips
Kettle Brand Sweet and Spicy Gochujang chips / Kettle Brand

When Kettle Brand added the limited time flavor, Gochujang, the new snack offering was more than just capturing a food trend. In collaboration with Chef Eric Choi, of the restaurant C as in Charlie, the opportunity opened a conversation about food culture blending with flavor innovation.

Although Gochujang has been a staple ingredient in Korean food, the bold, unique flavor has become more prevalent in the food conversation. From enhancing condiments to a punch of spicy umami in a recipe, the Korean condiment is everywhere.

When Kettle Brand announced it was adding a Gochujang flavor to its line-up, many people could not wait to get that first taste. More importantly, its partnership with Chef Eric Choi meant that the authentic flavor would come through in every crunch bite.

For those people unfamiliar with Chef Choi, he is one of the forces behind the celebrated New York restaurant, C as in Charlie. The innovative restaurant takes traditional Korean dishes and showcases how American immigrants can bring an innovative and playful approach while creating a sense of community in the intimate space.

Recently, FoodSided spoke with Chef Eric Choi about his partnership with Kettle Brand and the launch of the Gochujang chips. When asked about his impressions of the flavor and why the kettle chip format enhances the Korean condiment, Chef Choi said, “Kettle Brand makes a great canvas for the complex flavor of Gochujang! The perfectly kettle cooked chip base made with high quality potatoes is a great vehicle for the new flavor that allows for the sweet and spicy delivery of elements like peppers, cayenne, onion and garlic from the traditional recipe. You are rewarded not only with an epic crunch, but with a burst of bright flavor with every bite.”

When the product launched, Chef Choi offered a special dish at C as in Charlie. Although this menu offering is no longer available, the concept of a Beef Tartare with the Kettle Brand Gochujang Chips is a concept that sparks some food curiosity.

Chef Choi expanded the concept. “Kettle Brand is known for crafting bold and unique chips that always stand out, delivering a flavor experience that allows fans to delight in the unconventional. I also share this passion for exploring innovative flavors that stand out in an original way at C as in Charlie! When I first tried Kettle Brand Gochujang, I really tasted the rich flavors of Gochujang and was excited to create a new elevated culinary experience that honors the brand’s unique interpretations of the condiment. I was so inspired by the new limited edition chip from Kettle Brand that I created a specialty dish featuring the chip – our Beef Tartare with Kettle Brand Gochujang Chips!”

“Our Beef Tartare with Kettle Brand Gochujang Chips offers a unique twist on the classic beef and potato chip combo. Inspired by Korean cuisine, we blend Gochujang into the tartare and serve it with Kettle Brand chips, creating a harmonious fusion of flavors. Succulent beef tenderloin marinated in a rich Gochujang sauce forms the heart of our tartare, complemented by cured egg yolk gel, pickled shallots, fresh chives, and diced Asian pear for texture and complexity. The Kettle Brand Gochujang Chips add a satisfying crunch and an extra layer of spice, enhancing the overall light, tangy and subtly taste of the dish.”

His explanation is key to seeing that Kettle Brand chips can be more than just another snack. Using the food to build flavors in a dish is something that any cook can accomplish.

Offering some food advice to the home cook, Chef Choi said, “The limited-edition Kettle Brand Gochujang chips are available now which is perfect with the warm weather around the corner. You can serve the chips at your upcoming BBQs and picnics or just pack them up with you when you’re on the go and enjoy them on their own! If you want to experiment even more, I’d suggest trying the chips with tteok-bokki, a beloved Korean street food. The Kettle Brand Gochujang chips add a satisfying crunch and extra flavor when crushed on top of the soft and chewy rice cakes.”

While Chef Choi offered a specific example of a Korean dish, the Kettle Brand chips would be equally enjoyable on top of a burger, pulsed into a coating for chicken, or even a sweet, spicy garnish to a dessert, the possibilities are many.

In some ways, finding ways to meld different food, flavors, and cultures is at the heart of what C as in Charlie does. When asked about how the restaurant blends Korean and Southern culture and hospitality, Chef Choi shared, “Highlighting the fusion of Southern and Korean cuisine is important to me, as my cultural heritage is deeply rooted in both South Korea and Atlanta, shaping my identity as a chef. Our Popcorn Chicken embodies this fusion, with its Southern fried perfection elevated by a sweet and spicy gochujang glaze, a favorite in South Korea. Similarly, our Baby Back Ribs showcase the blend of Southern BBQ tradition and Korean flavors, rubbed with a Gochujang sauce base and cooked to tender perfection, exemplifying the harmonious blend of flavors from both culinary realms.”

“As my creative take on cuisine seamlessly blends my Korean culture and southern roots, my collaboration with the always bold and original Kettle Brand was a perfect fit! I find inspiration in creating new ways for consumers to experience bold and unexpected flavors in original ways, which is why I was so thrilled to team up with Kettle Brand to launch their new limited-edition Gochujang chip and showcase our shared passion for innovation.”

While there is innovation with his approach to food, it is more than enjoying a plate while sitting in a lonely bubble. Creating a sense of community and energic atmosphere is vital to his dining concept.

As Chef Choi said, “A vibrant dining atmosphere enhances the culinary journey, engaging all senses and fostering connections. As a young chef, I infuse my restaurant with my own personal touches, as well as my co- founders Steve and David, offering innovative cuisine and dishes like the Beef Tartare with Kettle Brand Gochujang Chips. A unique ambiance creates memorable experiences for every guest, making each visit unforgettable.”

While C as in Charlie excels in creating that memorable moment, everyone can be inspired to adapt that idea in their own space. Opening a bag of those Gochujang Kettle Brand chips is the opportunity to explore flavor, make connections, and let the food spark a flavor conversation that will continue long after the chips are gone.