THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, Korea’s first-ever PGA Tour event, is garnering keen interest from the media and sports fans all over the world. There is just less than a week left before the tournament kicks off. Since the holding of the tournament was confirmed in April, experts from various fields have made preparations for the competition for a long time. Now, all the preparations have been completed. Let's hear an extraordinary story that can only be heard in the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES.
THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES is a tournament attended by the world's top golfers, A special Korean-lettered trophy was designed for the tournament’s sole winner-to-be, and it was unveiled on October 9th, Hangul Day, to celebrate the creation and excellence of Hangul.
Korea's own unique asset that opened up opportunities for every Korean person
Hangul, Korea's own unique asset that opened up opportunities for every Korean person. And Jikji, the world's oldest movable metal type printed book. Hangul is one of the world's most excellent and most formally beautiful alphabets, and it opened up opportunities for every Korean person. "Bridge to Realization,” the spirit conveyed by Hangul, is also the theme of THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES. Bridge To Realization is a passage through which everyone's goals, opportunities, and dreams are realized, and it also symbolizes K-Culture, Korea’s iconic asset.
The names of 78 golfers engraved on the trophy using movable type
The trophy has the shape of a metal printing plate, and the names of all attending golfers are engraved on it with Hangul movable type. The name of the winner will be gold plated to commemorate it.
The wooden legs at the bottom of the trophy embody the actual bridge existing on the 18th hole of Club Nine Bridges, signifying that all 78 attending golfers cross the bridge at some point. The type pieces can be disassembled and combined so that they can form the names of each year’s attending golfers. The typeface used is “CJ ONLYONE Font,” which intricately conveys the identity of CJ Group.
You can find out who will be the owner of the only trophy in the world of this nature in THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, to be held from 19th to 22nd.
Travis Steiner, who is in charge of everything THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES related from its planning to its operation management, has been preparing for the successful holding of the tournament in Korea since last December. Having worked at the PGA Tournament Bureau for 10 years, he exudes extraordinary confidence about the tournament. Let's hear from him about some behind-the-scenes stories of THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES and how it was prepared.
Tells us the story behind the materialization of the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, Korea’s first-ever PGA Tour event.
I have been thinking about holding a PGA Tour event in Korea since a few years ago. Watching the Presidents Cup in 2015, I saw the possibility of successfully hosting a PGA tournament in Korea. The PGA Tour was also positive about holding a competition in Korea because it was paying particular attention to the Korean golf market among Asian golf markets. I think that this tournament will play an essential role in increasing the demand for PGA Tour events not only in the Korean golf market but also worldwide. I think Korea is an attractive place to hold PGA Tour events because it has the largest golf market in Asia. As the tournament will be held jointly with CJ for the next 10 years, I will do my best to help both CJ and PGA Tour promote their respective brands internationally.
Kim Si-Woo won The Players Championship this season, and I think that became the starting point for the unity between PGA Tour and Korean golf fans. I will make sure that the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES is held successfully and brings together PGA Tour and Korean golf fans.
How far along are you with preparing for THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES?
The preparations are going well. The tournament will be held on time without any lingering issues. Like the golf course you can see behind, everything is going perfectly. Nine Bridges, the venue for the tournament, is striving to provide the best golf course for the players. Even in the midst of drought and environmental difficulties, the course would be preserved in the best condition thanks to the excellent troubleshooting skills of the people working on the course.
The remodeling of the course was already completed earlier this year. I believe everything has changed fantastically. I think everyone, including the golfers and fans, will notice the changes once they see the course and facilities for this tournament. We are also preparing to provide the best gallery facilities to golf fans. I hope you can be made aware that both golfers and golf fans have worked very hard to create the best golf tournament.
Tell us about Club Nine Bridges, the venue for THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES.
Club Nine Bridges strikes me as a hybrid style course that blends a typical American style course with a modern style course. In some ways, I feel it was inspired by Scottish courses. The course has been enhanced even more with its recent remodeling carried out by David Dale, who initially designed the course. We anticipate that PGA Tour players will find the course to be very different from other courses they've played so far. But I think the course is more advantageous to golfers playing on the PGA Tour than to those playing in Asia, including Korea and Japan.
How difficult do you think the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES is compared to other PGA Tour events?
I have been working on the PGA Tour for more than 10 years, and I’m convinced that this tournament doesn’t pale in comparison to any other PGA tournaments. If anything, I think it is coming along better than others did. And for that reason, I have no worries about the current state of progress. The organizers of the tournament, as well as those involved with the course, have done a great job, and I am confident that it will prove to be a successful tournament.
Tell us about the golfers who are going to play in THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES.
Most of those ranked high in at the PGA Tour FedEx Cup have already confirmed their attendance. Most of them have never played in Korea, but in my view, that makes the tournament more interesting. I heard that most of the golfers decided to attend the tournament after hearing about Korea from those who played in the 2015 Presidents Cup. I am delighted that many excellent players have agreed to participate in the tournament.
Of all attending golfers, my expectations are the highest for Justin Thomas, who ranked first in the FedEx Cup. Thomas is expected to be in top form as he has already tallied five wins this season, including winning the PGA Championship. Besides him, many other FedEx Cup top rankers as well as all the international teams that played in the 2017 Presidents Cup have added their names to the tournament roster. So we are expecting to see great performances in the tournament.
“I hope that THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES will grow into the world’s leading golf tournament.
The long, 10-year project has now just begun
I hope fans will also enjoy the stage where the world's best golfers compete"
Chef Ahn Sung-Jae is a young Michelin chef who dreams of catapulting Korean food into fine dining through the natural taste of traditional Korean food ingredients. The bibigo chef corps led by him is spurring the final preparations for THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES’s “bibigo Gala Dinner.” The meeting of chef Ahn Sung-Jae and bibigo, which signals dreams of the globalization of Korean food. Since this is one of the most anticipated tournament-related programs, we had a Q&A with the chef himself.
Your name must be well-known among gourmands interested in the Michelin Guide. Give us a brief introduction of yourself.
My Korean name is Ahn Sung-Jae, but in the US, people call me Chef Sung Ahn. I came back to Korea to start a new project called “MOSU Seoul” after running a restaurant called “MOSU” in San Francisco.
“MOSU” achieved the lofty feat of earning a Michelin star within a year of its foundation.
To be exact, it was eight months. I’m really grateful for that. The right way to put it would be “I survived in San Francisco.” San Francisco has a feel of a small city where people from many diverse ethnic groups live together. As a result, it is also where new food culture and trends are created earlier than any other cities in the US. Competition is fierce as the restaurant scene there is already saturated. You have to come up with something unique to be noticed.
Then, why do you think MOSU was so well loved?
There are stereotypes about fine dining that people have. For instance, fine dining is uptight and involves a lot of rules. I worked hard to break such stereotypes. What I wanted to do most with the restaurant was to offer food made with care using the best ingredients. And that also goes hand in hand with honesty. The salt falling from the tip of the hand, regardless of genre, never lies. The ingredients used for food were also honest. I think that the food we honestly cooked in our own way using good ingredients spoke to our customers.
I heard you learned to cook the cuisines of many different countries including Japan, France, and Morocco.
And you are making Korean cuisine. Is there any special reason?
Korean cuisine is what my mother has cooked me since I was a kid, and it is also my favorite cuisine. The inspirations and ideas for all the tastes I create come from my memories of the food that my mother and grandmother cooked me. So, it is natural for me to make Korean food. The reason I studied the cuisines of many other countries is that I have a desire for learning. I have quite a big passion for cooking knowledge. I also wanted to try various kinds of food as a cook.
In addition, I don’t think I can improve my Korean food cooking skills just by cooking Korean only. You need to learn more and acquire a broader perspective in order to be able to come up with a different approach.
What do you think is the compelling charm of Korean food?
Korean food faithfully provides the taste of waiting. The taste of food you fermented in earthen jars and waited for a year. In Korea, there are countless experts and of Korean cuisine and its ingredients. I want to handle more and more Korean food ingredients in the future. I plan to continue studying them. To my knowledge, various attempts are being made in the Korean food world as well. I am one of those making such attempts. I aim to try new combinations contemplating and making the food myself without constraining myself by the notion of “how Korean food should be.”
In recent years, the globalization of Korean food has emerged as a significant issue. I think you must have experienced it directly in America.
I think Korean food has already attained globalization. Professional chefs also show great interest in Korean food. There are more and more people making new attempts using soybean paste, kimchi, and Korean traditional fermentation methods, which are familiar to Koreans but new to them. I think we still have a long way to go.
Being told “Accept this culture” alone doesn’t get the culture enmeshed in the fabric of your daily life. You naturally accept a culture when you have experienced it yourself and found it good. Likewise, the more people who experience Korean food and find it tasty, the more love Korean food will attract. In that sense, I am aiming to make “delicious food, not just 'Korean food'.
What do you think is the most important thing when cooking?
What’s most important when it comes to cooking is have originality. A chef should know where the food comes from and why it is made the way it is made. Usually, I tend to visit restaurants that have a sense of tradition rather than serving trendy food. The next important thing is to come up with a distinct concept for the food. You cannot cater to everyone’s taste. That's why it's important to bring the chef's personality to the food. In addition, every good dish has context, and I try to make sure that the tastes of each dish that I make flow in a harmonious way.
How do you wish your name or your dishes to be labeled?
I don’t aspire to be a certain type of chef. Chefs must speak with their food. If the food is not tasty, it's nothing. Although I received a Michelin star, I am starting anew again, so I need to put that much effort into it. I think the most important thing is consistency. You need to be able to make delicious food consistently. In order to provide a constantly good experience to those many who have tasted my food, I will continue to try my best to maintain the consistency.
You are preparing for THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES’s “bibigo Gala Dinner.” Please tell us about that.
We plan to treat the 250 attending golfers and the Pro-Am guests to dishes made with bibigo’s own secret recipes. We are trying our best at preparing the dinner so that all people coming to watch the tournament on the day can enjoy delicious meals. Personally, this is an honor for me. I think this event has significance in that it provides the opportunity for Korean food to be introduced to many people. This tournament is a festival for golf lovers. As one of the people involved in preparing for the tournament, I hope all people who come to the event will have a great time here.
THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES will go beyond a simple golf tournament and become an essential bridge for K-Culture from which the taste of Korean food is spread to the whole world. What do you anticipate as a chef wishing for the globalization of Korean food?
This tournament is a truly historic event in that it is Korea's first official PGA Tour tournament. I hope that experiencing Korean culture and food will leave everyone with precious memories. For me, being able to play a part in this meaningful event is special enough in itself. We will do our best so that you can tell yourself, “This is what’s called Korean food. And not only that, it is truly delicious,” on your way back home from “bibigo Gala Dinner.” The globalization of Korean food should not be a grandiose thing. When people have personally experienced Korean food and shown a fondness to it, that’s where it all starts. I think globalization will come naturally when there are a sufficient number of people with such experiences. And I have some personal expectations for this tournament. Of the golfers attending the tournament, I like Jason Day very much. He has been my favorite for a long time. Because this tournament will bring the world's top golfers together, I think golf fans like me are looking forward to THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES with great excitement.
The bridge where a dream meets a dream,
and a passion meets a passion.