Chef Debbie Lee is the founder of Mind Body Fork, a Costa Mesa-based meal delivery service with wellness and sustainability in mind. During the pandemic, the Ladera Ranch resident launched Seoultown Supper, bringing back the Korean-inspired dishes she’s known for. From pork mandu to bibimbap bowls, you can expect a weekly lineup of family-style Korean pub fare. She recently partnered with Gunwhale Ales, so you can now add beer to an order of $50 or more.
What inspired you to launch Seoultown Supper?
During the start of the shutdown, I had a few Asian American clients asking me if I could do a “healthyish” version of the Korean pub food I was known for (when I was based in Los Angeles). So I took on the challenge. It started with dumplings, and then I added a stew and a few banchans. Then I thought if I could get enough clients to want this as a weekend bonus, I could also create work for my team. Seoultown Supper was created initially as a pop-up to have a little “Korean Kuarantine” fun while helping my team get extra hours. I had no expectations that a little kimchi would go such a long way. So far, everyone is loving being able to get an array of “seoulful” goodness delivered to their doorstep, contact-free.
What are some things you kept in mind while developing the meals?
I was inspired by a book called “Food Rules” by Dr. Cate Shanahan when I was looking for a program that I could live with. When I read her book, I could not believe that it was so simple, and most importantly she said to go ahead and eat that chicken or duck skin! I was my own guinea pig; I (applied) her blueprint of metrics and nine months later, I lost 29 pounds. It’s basic common sense principles: keeping to healthy, non-toxic oils, not using refined or processed sugar or sweeteners, and no gluten. I also source all my products through our local farms and ranches, vetting them to make sure they are meeting our sustainability standards. We don’t have a set menu. The offerings are based on what I find at the market that week. It does make it a bit more challenging; however, our clients love the element of surprise and variety in their meals.
Why did you want to showcase Korean pub food?
Given the current dining climate, I wanted to bring a family-friendly menu of goodies that people could quickly reheat and serve. Also with distance learning and working from home, the last thing I think anyone wants to do is start from scratch to make a meal. And Korean food is very labor-intensive. I’m all about convenience and wanted to offer that to all. I also wanted to provide a service that I knew we could carry on, no matter what the current situation is during the pandemic. Plus, how can you not be happy with a little Korean fried chicken in your life?
What dishes are you are most proud of?
Definitely a few of the standouts are my mandu (Northern-style dumplings) and my Korean fried chicken. And everyone loves the japchae (stir-fried glass noddles), which I happen to make vegan.
Any new dishes you’re excited to add?
Every week, I like to add some seasonal favorites and go with what I think the crowd is looking to have. Since it is getting hot out, I have been adding more and more vegetables to the list. We also decided to make the menu options to have at least 40 percent vegan choices for those who are eating plant-based. And right now, it’s all about the pickles, so you will see us getting really creative with the kimchi options this summer.
Check it out!
New weekly offerings get posted every Friday night for morning delivery the following Friday.