Kimchi and Cornbread

Lunch at Willow Tree restaurant in Montgomery.

When you sit down for a meat and three in Montgomery, Alabama, say at the Davis Café, you choose from the menu and you get one plate all for you, but at a Korean table in Montgomery – or anywhere – your plates are all shared. And there are many of them. Meat and six or seven, you might say.

Chef Edward Lee with chef Cynthia Davis of Davis Café in Montgomery, Alabama.

Since the Hyundai plant opened in Montgomery in 2005, Koreans have been moving there, some for work at the plant, but others because they see the growing community of Koreans and Korean businesses in this small capital city in Alabama. So, a small southern K-Town is cropping up in the strip malls along the Eastern Boulevard.

Soo Seok (l) & his mother serve bulgogi at Soo Seok and his wife Doh Ah’s home in Montgomery.

Reporter and producer Sarah Reynolds travels to Montgomery to eat at several Korean tables. And Chef Edward Lee joins her – a Korean–American chef who made his name in Louisville, Kentucky. He borrows from Korean and American Southern cuisines to make collards and kimchi, grits and galbi. What’s happening in Montgomery reveals a shared hospitality and love of food between these two cultures.

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Learn More about:

Davis Café

AKEEP (Alabama-Korea Education and Economic Partnership)

Edward Lee’s 610 Magnolia

Read “Korean Montgomery” by Ann Taylor Pittman from the summer 2017 issue of Gravy.

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Music for this episode is by Blue Dot Sessions and Lo Ka Ping. 

Photos by Sarah Reynolds.