To maybe remind North Korea’s very hungry citizenry what food looks like, it appears dictator and sometime cheese devotee Kim Jong-un asked a Top Chef–style cooking contest be run on state TV. DPRK-run media report that the Dear Leader was on hand for the competition, which tested more than 1,000 of the country’s best chefs. Competitors cranked out traditional terrapin dishes, boiled grey-mullet soup, and foreign foods that ranged from spaghetti to “broccoli five ways,” all with locally available raw ingredients (again, according to state-run media).
As many people know, Kim is quite fond of food — in fact, it’s seemingly one of his favorite things to be photographed in front of, usually in shots where he stands stiffly contemplating absurdly sized buffets. And according to the Pyongyang Times, what he saw this time was some show: Competitors exhibited “the superb culinary skills and serving expertise of chefs and waiters and waitresses” that people have come to expect from the world’s most reclusive state, and the three-day festival culminated in a mandarin-fish showdown, plus a skills contest that saw which competitor could slice swellfish the best, then fry rainbow trout “with marvelous dexterity.”
All in all, it sounds like the state continues to make great strides toward realizing its new vision of becoming a culinary destination that’s known for “scientific, intensive, and industrialized” mushroom cultivation and permeated “with the fragrant smell of fish and other seafoods.”