Back in October 2017, I received a call from a random number which I usually don’t pick up because I simply expect them to leave a voicemail if it’s important. And then I heard that ding – 1 unread voicemail.
At the exact same time, I received a text message from my cousin Frank (manager of Jangteu) that read, “You’ll get a call from this lady from the Quebec TV channel CASA (sister channel of TVA) asking you about possibly doing a show on Korean food and its culture. Just hear what she has to say. I gave her your number because I know how much of a foodie you are!”
I then listened to the voicemail.
The lady made a proposition to film an episode about the Korean culture in Montreal. The overall purpose of their show was to explore the colorfully-explosive cultures that Montreal makes home to. All the words came singing into my ears. I had always believed in this religion of a vast multidimensional culture in Montreal. Sometimes it feel so underrated to the outside world and people can only really feel it once they’ve set foot here.
Montreal is the home of not just Canadians, but African-Canadians, Jewish-Canadians, Korean-Canadians, Indian-Canadians, Russian-Canadians, and the list goes on. It even goes as far as such a deeply interwoven mix of so many cultures into one single human. I’ve come across so many people who are so fruitfully cultured. They are abundant of traditions, experience, and knowledge about the world from what their parents taught them, including the different cultural beliefs that came along with them.
Culture is a strong and colourful word, especially today. It was once divided, and each nation had its own. Today, the people we speak with and the humans we meet are just a tip of the cultural iceberg. The overlapping of ancestries and the interracial families build a stronger cultural bind. What was once just a spectrum of colours on a strip now feels like a single picture of a rainbow as one entity.
If I had to explain the language of our culture in Montreal, this is exactly how I would put it. I am a Korean-Canadian and I have never felt like I didn’t belong in Montreal. This is my home, and no matter where I decide to venture off to for however long won’t ever change the fact that my cultured heart was because of Montreal.
Bouffe MTL is the name of the show that TVA was newly airing in the new year 2018. They had a vision to showcase exactly how I felt about Montreal. The show would have two hosts who’d explore the city of Montreal to find a family who’d allow them to join in their festive dinner party, and to learn and introduce the culture to the world. The word “Bouffe” is food in French.
Getting to just accept the proposition took more than just saying yes. Here’s what it took:
- A gathering of about 10-15 people (made up of family and friends)
- A house to host the party (must be on the island of Montreal)
The agreement was that they’d cover the cost for all food – including the alcohol. They left the menu and the grocery shopping up to us, but the hosts brought the traditional Korean alcohol, soju [소주].
The main concern was getting the right house for shooting. Initially, my father wasn’t too keen on having people into our homes, let alone shoot the inside of our house which wasn’t very decorative or nice enough to be worth shooting, he thought. My cousin’s house in Brossard (just outside of the island) would’ve been perfect considering the size and the layout of their dining area, but the reps of the show really insisted that they stick with their guidelines, which was to strictly shoot on the island of Montreal. I didn’t know any other Korean family who was willing to lend their home, so I had only one option. It took a lot of convincing to get my father onboard, but in the end he pulled through because he knew how much it meant to me and that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
*Spoiler alert: On the day of the shooting, my father had the greatest time with the tv hosts and actually ended up having more screen time than I did! He was so proud of it that he went around telling people about the show.
Other than remembering the anxiousness I felt pacing back and forth looking out the window for their truck, it was a whole lot of fun. The purpose of the show was to just enjoy a nice dinner party and have people film the entire thing, so I tried my best to enjoy myself. My cousin Daniel has a real knack for these things – he’s social, loves being in front of the camera, and is so well-spoken. Beside the two TV hosts, Dan navigated them through the day and was really the one to introduce them to our culture. You’re probably wondering why I (a huge foodie and food blogger!) didn’t have the courage to jump in and take over. Well, as weird as it sounds, I wasn’t confident with my French and the entire show had to be spoken and shot using the french language.
The earlier part of the day was shot at Marché Jangteu with my cousin’s family. They were to do the grocery shopping there and then head over to my house for the dinner party.
My cousin and his family, as well as the filming crew, arrived at our house at about 4-5pm. The crew of 7-8 people on top of all our family and friends who joined us that night made our house feel even tinier. Some of the filming crew were sitting on our stair steps to stay out of the shots.
For filming purposes, they were only staying at our house for about 2 hours because they were on a tight schedule – they had a reservation at Pang Pang Karaoke in downtown Montreal right after dinner. Considering the short amount of time, my aunt had brought certain meals that were somewhat already chopped up and ready to eat. Also, considering the variety of food we wanted to present and the amount of time that was given to us, we were only able to show how to make 1 dish (Dwaen Jang Jjigae – soybean paste stew with veggies) and then it was off to introducing the crew to Korean BBQ.
Time went by so fast and it was difficult to even be able to sit down and eat because I was fascinated by what was going on. The hosts, as well as the crew, were such friendly people. They were open-minded and very respectful of our culture and our home too!
One of the filming crew was in charge of taking slow shots of items around the house and closeups of people too. I especially thought it was nice that they did included shots of our family portraits.
Some of my own shots of the filming process:
We shot the episode in November and our episode was going to air sometime in Jan-Feb. The show itself was premiering the second week of January and they informed us that the order in which the episodes would air was still up in the air (lol).
Chez les Coréens en février
2018 rolled in and I knew how anxious I’d get to see the show air on tv so I tried my very best to not think about it. However, every once in a while I’d visit their main website to see if there was any update or at least an air date.
Some time in February, I finally saw it. The show was coincidentally going to air on February 18th – my birthday. I obviously felt like a child and jumped up & down until I told my parents. The days leading up to the air date, I had someone I know tell me that they saw me on TV as part of the commercial of the show – something that I hadn’t even thought about. The feeling finally started settling in – My family and I were going to be on TV.
Click here to view the trailer of the episode.
Thankfully for PVR, I recorded the show on top of having watched it with my family and my sister’s too as we were enjoying my birthday cake.
CASA – Bouffe MTL
Be sure to check out all their other episodes too! If you have the channel on your TV, watch the other cultures. You really won’t regret it. I’ve watched a few and they’re really good. The picture is so well shot and there’s a lot of focus on the food and the fun. It isn’t so much formal, but you feel the beat of the show and feel the urge to dance along with your foodie heart as the hosts take you away on a journey through Montreal and its rich diversity of the food and its people.
It was a fantastic opportunity and I cannot thank them enough for having showcased the Korean culture to the world. Korean food has so much to offer to people and I feel as though it is still somewhat underrated. I am elated that I got this rare chance. Once I get a digital copy of the show, I’ll definitely share it in my blog. 🙂