Thunder Bay Hosts an Episode of New Docuseries
Story by Sidney Ulakovic, Photos by Damien Gilbert
Thunder Bay will enter the national spotlight this September with the premiere of TLN’s new docuseries Searching With Chef Sang. The series follows writer, chef, and restaurateur, Sang Kim, as he travels across Ontario meeting with (mostly) Asian-Canadians to share authentic cultural dishes, all while discussing the diasporic experience, or what he calls being “a child of elsewhere,” and what home means to them. Searching With Chef Sang will be the first nationally-broadcast food and travel show with a Korean host and writer, and, excitingly, Thunder Bay will be a part of this timely cultural story.
Sang Kim was itching for his next creative endeavour when the opportunity to do the show seemed to present itself. “Right before the pandemic, a production company approached me and said ‘Hey, listen, are you interested in doing a show that goes on the road?’ And I said ‘Only if I get to write it,’” he says. While it doesn’t hurt to have good timing and a strong initial concept, the flavour of the show truly emerges through his exploration of what it means to be “a child of elsewhere” and the stories of the people he meets along his travels.
As they were filming the first season, it became clear to Kim that the women he was speaking with were becoming the voice of the show. “[The show captured] their resilience, their beauty, kindness, and self-overcoming as a Korean woman in a country that wasn’t quite prepared to understand how they were different,” says Kim. And this was how he ended up in Thunder Bay. Producers directed him to local dental hygienist and Instagram boutique co-owner Chloe Kim, originally from Seoul, South Korea. She lived in Australia and briefly in the Philippines after graduating from dental hygiene school until she moved to Thunder Bay in 2014 to attend Confederation College where she met her now-husband and decided to make Thunder Bay home.
In truth, it’s not often Thunder Bay ends up on the national media’s radar for something positive. “I didn’t think I would like Thunder Bay,” Sang Kim admits. In an earnest effort to give Thunder Bay a chance, he knocked a few items off the Thunder Bay tourist checklist: dinner at Tomlin Restaurant, a visit to Kakabeka Falls, and his very first persian. While those things were all enjoyable, what really pulled Sang Kim in was the beauty of the nature Thunder Bay is immersed in. Not only was the landscape a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of Toronto, but he says the promise of adventure in the landscape mirrored Chloe Kim’s personality and made the perfect backdrop to capture her story.
Throughout his time here, Sang Kim warmed up to Thunder Bay. “I got a strong sense of community and a sense of the beauty of the people and that it was unique,” he says. Thunder Bay has always been rich with different cultures; this is more true now than ever with how diverse our population has become with Canada’s changing demographics. The first season of Searching With Chef Sang leads with a distinctly Korean perspective, but Sang Kim plans to expand the show’s dialogue in upcoming seasons. As human beings, we are united by food; it nourishes us with its history, the memories that we may associate with it, and the community found in sharing it.
The series premiere of Searching With Chef Sang aired on TLN on September 3 at 8 pm. Successive episodes will air at the same time every Sunday. Be sure to tune in on September 17 at 8 pm to see what Chef Sang cooks up in Thunder Bay with Chloe Kim.