This week, we met with the owner of “IamTiramisu”, an authentic Italian dessert cafe located in Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu. Let’s listen to her story and passion for tiramisu.
When did your passion for tiramisu begin?
During my 12 years of studying abroad in Italy, tiramisu was my soul food. It was a dessert that I always packed when I was happy, depressed, alone, or with my friends. If other Korean students spent their time studying abroad consoled by kimchi, I think it was tiramisu. Tiramisu was not just a food for me, but a comforting gift. The passion for “tiramisu” that went beyond taste and led to comfort seems to have naturally sprung up from there. It’s fun to think about it now, but isn’t it that attractive?
What do you think about other tiramisu that was in Korea before yours? How do you develop your tiramisu image in Korea?
After returning from Italy, I searched diligently for my favorite dessert, tiramisu. I think I’ve been there every time I get information from regular cafes that they do some tiramisu. Ironically, I missed Korea so much when I was in Italy, but when I came back, I missed that place so much. Contrary to expectations, it was not easy to find a proper tiramisu in Korea. It seemed far from the mainland style, such as using cream cheese or whipped cream instead of Mascarpone cheese as a cream or Genoise instead of Savoiardi.
I don’t want always thinking in terms of what is wrong and right but I think it’s a question of sincerity, the food that you made, even if the methods are different. Most of the differences can be perceived by taste. Even if it is not just the Italian way, I naturally felt grateful and respectful when I encountered the dessert that shows the hard work of the creator.
Unfortunately, such experiences were not frequent and often disappointing. Especially when I see tiramisu, I order it unconsciously, but the frozen tiramisu that I had tasted at a franchise cafe was really scary to see in my dream again.
Tiramisu is a dessert that is easy to make and simple, and yet has a unique taste and charm. I made tiramisu in Korea and concentrated as much as I could on reproducing the ‘unique charm’. Since I am not skilled enough, I am paying attention to using quality raw materials. (This always brings the bottom line to a high cost rate…) I’m not a good businessman.) As a result, the good quality of the food naturally guarantees and there seems to be a virtuous cycle thanks to the support from grateful people who recognize it. I’m sticking to my faith in sincerity in simplicity. Although he won the title of “Italian traditional tiramisu,” it is a bit cheesy and embarrassing.
I think it was a great success if someone tasted the tiramisu I made and felt good like the name.
Any future plans?
I read in a post that a self-employed person who runs a cafe in Korea lives “Dobby’s life.” Dobby, who appears in the movie “Harry Potter,” is a house elf who unconditionally obeys the orders of his owner and lives for his owner. It resembles the life of a Korean self-employed person who prepares to greet customers who may come and works diligently in the same routine.
It’s just a goal if you don’t get tired, and if you’re allowed to do a long run with the right amount of economic power and stamina, if that’s your future goal. It’s really hard to make money doing ‘what you like’ in Korea. It is especially so to be stubborn and difficult to reach a compromise. Sometimes they are criticized. ‘When are you going to make money like that?’ ‘It’s hard to make a big deal out of this.’
It is not that I want to make money or increase the size of my business. I just want to see people who say, “I’m glad this shop is still here,” and thank them for a long time, and continue to do things to repay their hearts.