Chef Joseph Yoon: Brooklyn Bugs Q & A

Chef Joseph Yoon

Brooklyn Bugs Q & A

What defines Brooklyn Bugs, and what is your motivation and inspiration?
I am an Edible Insect Ambassador, Chef, and Warrior—we work closely with universities, museums, Chefs, and thought leaders to raise awareness and appreciation for edible insects.  Our work helps to explain why the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) endorses them to address food security and sustainability.  The fact that we can disrupt the system to address such important matters, and help to provide innovative solutions to how we can sustainably reimagine what the future of food can look like is of great inspiration and motivation to me.

How did you source/find your vendors?
I’ve been very fortunate to work with a close group of vendors who have been extremely supportive of my mission from day one.  There have been events where I’ve fed thousands of people at Purdue University, Montana State University, or the American Museum of Natural History where we shared upwards of a dozen unique samples to thousands of people throughout the day.  Through all this, my vendors have graciously donated their products for our programming.  We luckily found one another through the web or “buzz” we generated

What’s the business model?
People tend to think of edible insects in terms of extremes because they think of insects viscerally as a pest or an undesirable that causes disease or ruins their garden.  Our work focuses on outreach and education to redefine and reimagine that edible insects are sustainably farmed or harvested specifically for human consumption, are nutrient dense, and most importantly, can be prepared deliciously.  We also offer business to business consulting and R&D, and are looking to find partners to expand our operations to include consumer packaged products in the near future.

How have you succeeded, and how has it “maninsectated” (manifested)?
It’s been incredibly rewarding to receive numerous grants to tour across the nation, be invited to share my work internationally (sadly postponed due to covid), work with renowned artists and scientists, and see our work validated with a tremendous amount of global press (thank you guys)!  As a chef, I never thought I’d have an impact on global initiatives, and it has been incredibly rewarding and humbling at the same time.

Why is this important for the culinary world to embrace?
We are already depleting our natural resources to feed the current population, and will have to find solutions for how we can sustainably feed the burgeoning global population.  I don’t like to emphasize the doomsday scenario though, but prefer to focus on the fact that there are over two thousand types of edible insects that over eighty percent of the world’s nations already consumes with vastly different flavor profiles, textures, and functionality.  Imagine if we were able to tap into the wealth of talented chefs to help us define and understand how we can best incorporate and utilize edible insects, and be part of the solution towards a sustainable planet.

How will it redefine culinary arts from day-to-day to Michelin starred restaurants?
Think about how excited chefs are to work with new ingredients, and as this practice becomes more widely accepted amongst chefs, this would truly be a dynamic and exciting new frontier. I’m not suggesting that we give up everything else, but only to consider adding insect protein as another ingredient to a chef’s arsenal.  The possibilities to create everything from comfort food to haute cuisine would virtually be endless, with our imagination being the only limitation.

Chef Take:

While having many conversations with Chef Joseph I have found him to be extremely passionate about his profound direction in curving the mindset of the globe to better understand the diversity and creativity of Insects as a major source of protein. Sustainability is prominent in today’s preservation of food recourses. Through this direction Chef Joseph has taken the most professional direction as he is serious about not only introducing but truly educating the industry with the “need to know” about Bugs.

I am truly fascinated by Chefs passion and knowledge. In today’s industry it seems as we are struggling to source new ingredients and creatively present them whether in a recipe or presentation. I feel that Chefs today are reverting back to classic techniques and redefining the foundation of cuisine from culture to culture. With the introduction to Insect Protein, we open a massive door to new age techniques and flavors as well as the art of presentation

In the coming weeks Chef Joseph and myself will be engaging in a live video tasting and educating crash course followed by a hands on cooking demo of what I have learned. Stay tuned!