Kristian Baumann

Sool Searching – An introduction to Makgeolli with Kristian Baumann

Hey Sool Searchers! We're thrilled to bring you the first installment of our series, and to reveal our special guest, the renowned chef Kristian Baumann and owner of restaurant Koan in Copenhagen! We will be talking about Makgeolli's long history in Korea and shine a light on Koan and Yunguna's partnership in creating unique flavour experiences rooted in Korean traditions. 

If you're intrigued, continue reading!


Makgeolli – the fresh and fizzy Sool

Makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice wine, is cherished for its milky appearance, sweet and tangy flavour, and slightly fizzy texture. With a history dating back to the 10th century, Makgeolli is Korea's oldest alcoholic beverage. It was originally enjoyed by farmers as a nourishing and refreshing drink, although, over the centuries, it has evolved into a beloved beverage across all social strata and is one the most home-brewed drinks in Korean society. 

Historically, Makgeolli played a significant role in Korean culture. It was often consumed by the workers during breaks from hard labour or at festive occasions, symbolizing unity and togetherness. Today, it remains a staple in Korean society, enjoyed in casual settings like street markets and traditional taverns, as well as in modern bars and restaurants. 

Makgeolli in Current Society

In contemporary Korea, Makgeolli is experiencing a renaissance. Artisanal brewers are reimagining this traditional drink with innovative techniques and flavours, catering to both local and global palates. Its versatility and unique profile make it a popular choice for food pairings, and it continues to be a symbol of Korean heritage and craftsmanship. Its resurgence in popularity among younger generations speaks to its enduring appeal and signifies an exciting future for Makgeolli!



Photo by Neveq

To get to know Yunguna's Makgeolli better, we have invited creator of Koan, Kristian Baumann, to help us!

Kristian Baumann opened Koan in April 2023 and after just a few months received two michelin stars for his efforts in creating an outstanding culinary experience, showcasing Korean flavours and Nordic produce. The attention to detail and exploration of Kristian's birthplace Korea takes you on a journey unlike any other. 

Why "Koan"?

A Koan is a riddle-like question in Zen Buddhism meant to break boundaries and open the mind, reflecting the restaurant's philosophy of blending diverse culinary traditions

Kristian Baumann on Discovering Korea: "Exploring the street kitchens, the temples, the barbecue culture, and the royal court cuisine is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. Through these discoveries, I have found peace in being adopted, and can now share my love of food through memories from my travels combined with the wonderful ingredients that the Nordic seasons offer. For the past seven years, my curiosity about my birth country South Korea has grown stronger, and in this connection, I have gone on a discovery in the country to learn more about its culture, history, people, and traditions. It has manifested itself in my vocation as a chef rising to a higher level, bringing a sincere calmness. I again have an apprentice's view of all the impressions I have gained through dinners, ingredients, and the traditional and complex layers that are in the different Korean cuisines."


A Partnership Guided by Love for Korean Traditions

Since Kristian opened Koan in 2023, Yunguna and him have had a close partnership in bringing Sool to the guests dining at his restaurant. Koan was planning to do a full Sool pairing for their 18-course menu, and while they were looking for possibilities of bringing Korean rice wine to Copenhagen, Yunguna had finished their first three products and was ready to launch. Some would say it was a coincidence, however, it seemed fate-like when their paths aligned perfectly. 

“When I first had the pleasure of speaking to Emilie, I realized that she was incredibly talented and relentless in her pursuit to bring her vision of Yunguna to life. When we tasted her Takju, Yakju, and Makgeolli, we were blown away by the quality of the Sool. The beautiful layers of flavour within each product were complex and full of depth, highlighting the rice notes and craftsmanship.”

Since April last year, Yunguna and Kristian have kept a close relationship and continues to bring unique flavour experiences of Sool and Korean traditions to Koan's guests. Guided by love for the versatility and long history in Korean gastronomy, both parties hope to inspire. 


A Conversation 

Kristian, what is your first memory of Makgeolli?

Kristian: "On my first trip to Seoul, I had the pleasure of tasting high-end Makgeolli and was absolutely stunned by the flavour, viscosity, and the overall discovery of this drink. It changed my life, making me more curious about my heritage."

There are many versions of Makgeolli, so how would you describe Yunguna's Makgeolli? What makes it special?

"For me, the experience of drinking Yunguna’s Makgeolli evokes a special feeling of comfort and discovery. The Makgeolli has a beautiful light fizzy feeling with bright notes of rice and a roundness of sourness. At Koan, we serve it with our dish 'The Flavors of Sundae' - a traditional Korean pork blood sausage paired with preserved Danish blackcurrants. It’s a perfect showcase of our restaurant's essence, where Korea and Denmark come together."

To give people new to the world of Sool some inspiration, what would you pair Yunguna's Makgeolli with at home?

"I think Korean Fried Chicken is something that many people enjoy and Yunguna’s Makgeolli can work well here to cut the richness of the fried chicken."
It is custom in Korea to serve Makgeolli in abundance in bowl-like cups as the drink is typically low in alcohol percentage and fresh in flavour profile. Next time you feel adventurous, we suggest to grab a bottle of Makgeolli and pair with a gochujang crispy fried chicken. We always encourage to share these moments with your loved ones, and on that note, Sool Searchers, we hope you enjoyed this first installment and feel inspired to explore the world of Sool! 



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