Melanie Meyer of the Bevo Mill restaurant Tiny Chef is one of the chefs featured in a New York Times article on Korean adoptees in the United States who are exploring their heritage through cooking. The article was published Monday on the Times’ front page.
“These chefs are coming to terms with a heritage they didn’t grow up with,” author Elyse Inamine writes in the article. “And they are enthusiastically expressing it through the very public, and sometimes precarious, act of cooking for others.”
Meyer, who operates Tiny Chef as a walk-up window inside the Silver Ballroom at 4701 Morganford Road, tells Inamine how she “worried her distance from her Korean roots would call the credibility of her food into question.” The article also includes a recipe for her kimchi carbonara.
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Meyer said before the article’s publication, she wasn’t sure it would be included in the Times’ print edition — let alone on the front page — as well as its website.
When the online version was published on Sunday, Meyer said, “I was like, ‘OK, this is amazing.’ And then, like, (Monday) I wake up to being tagged in one of (Inamine’s) posts, and she’s holding, like, the tangible copy. And I was like, ‘No.’”
Meyer purchased as many copies of the Times as she could from bookstores and grocery stores to send to her family in South Korea. In fact, she reopened Tiny Chef in late July after a monthlong visit to South Korea to see her biological mother and other family members, whom she found last year. (She documented the trip on Tiny Chef’s Instagram account.)
Meyer said she felt “so much pressure” coming back to Tiny Chef: “I was over there for a month, you know, and just eating every day with my family. And I think I kind of scared myself into … being terrified to open again because, like, I have so much to prove now.”
For Tiny Chef’s reopening weekend special, Meyer served miyeokguk, a seaweed soup that is a traditional Korean birthday dish — and what her mother cooked for their first breakfast together on her trip.
“The first taste of that rich broth tasted like all of my past birthdays I never got to have in Korea combined into one bowl,” she wrote on Instagram.
Tiny Chef, a 2022 STL 100 honoree, is open for dinner Thursday-Saturday.