Despite the rain, the crowd was full of smiles at the Jongga Kimchi Blast this past weekend. The festival brought together 300 participants who gathered shoulder-to-shoulder while mixing seasoning with napa cabbage to make their own kimchi.
Held annually in France, United Kingdom, and United States, the Jongga Kimchi Blast is an event designed to promote kimchi around the world. The event is sponsored by the popular kimchi brand Jongga and was held for the first time in New York this year. It was co-hosted by the U.S. culinary school ICE (Institute of Culinary Education), SF Globalize, and the Korean Cultural Center NY.
Kimjang, or the making of the Korean staple of kimchi, is a detailed and collective process. From harvesting each ingredient alongside friends to gathering with family to make the kimchi and then sharing it with neighbors, it is a communal tradition from start to finish.
“Koreans have enjoyed Kimchi for over 1000 years, Kimchi transforms the humble cabbage through fermentation with salt, and a few carefully selected aromatics and ingredients. As well as preserving, and creating an amazing taste, the fermentation process brings a wealth of health benefits – it improves the bioavailability of many vitamins and nutrients by producing foods the body finds easier to digest.”– Sangtae JU, The founder of the Kimchi Cook-Off
The event was about more than celebrating kimchi, it was also about giving back to fund a better future for New York City.
Thanks to Jongga’s donation from the event’s ticket sales and a match by SF Globalize, three local organizations each received a check for $3,675. It was an honor to accept this gift while sharing the stage with the New York Fire Department (FDNY) and the Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC), who is a Grantee Partner of The New York Women’s Foundation.
In both past and present, women have played a pivotal role leading Kimjang by bringing the whole family and community together for various stages of the tradition. It is a collective process that resonates deeply with the philosophy of The New York Women’s Foundation. The Foundation’s model of trust-based philanthropy and participatory grant making has always relied on the power of collective practices that center women — just like the power of Kimjang to strengthen solidarity and community.
In these incredibly challenging times, the restorative and communal practice of making kimchi creates safe spaces to listen, heal, and support one another. It is an opportunity to come together to create a shared narrative in this City we call home.