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Dej Kewkacha x Justin Lee

I was thrilled to learn that this delightful event came together, featuring two exceptional pastry chefs whom I truly admire: Chef Justin Lee from Seoul and Dej Kewkacha from Bangkok. It marked the first-ever collaboration exclusively among pastry chefs at Asia's 50 Best.

Dej Kewkacha: A Visionary Pastry Chef

At just 22 years old, Thai-born chef Dej Kewkacha embarked on a journey to pursue his sweet dreams, co-founding Kacha Brothers with his brothers and establishing a foothold in the vibrant F&B industry. Today, this visionary entrepreneur oversees a thriving culinary empire comprising over 50 F&B outlets across Thailand, featuring seven leading brands, including the acclaimed Kyo Roll En—Thailand's foremost Japanese dessert cafe chain, recognized as "Best Dessert Cafe" by Bangkok’s Best Restaurants in 2019.

Dej Kewkacha's culinary prowess extends beyond entrepreneurship into the realm of haute patisserie. A self-taught patissier fluent in Japanese and Chinese, Dej's culinary odyssey has taken him to esteemed kitchens around the globe, including the prestigious 2 Michelin-star Ta Vie restaurant in Hong Kong. Notably, in 2019, he was the sole pastry chef invited to showcase his talents at the esteemed 'Cook Japan Project' in Tokyo, alongside luminaries such as Yannick Alleno, Mauro Colagreco, and Virgilio Martinez.

The crown jewel of Dej Kewkacha's culinary repertoire is Kyo Bar—an innovative dessert bar that captivates diners with an 'omakase' menu dedicated solely to desserts. Mirroring the seasonal evolution of a traditional Kaiseki meal, Kyo Bar's offerings epitomize the convergence of Japanese and Thai culinary traditions, elevated by contemporary pastry techniques.

Dej's creative genius and unwavering dedication to the art of pastry have garnered international acclaim, culminating in the prestigious "Pastry Talent of the Year 2023 Award" bestowed by La Liste in Paris, France. This accolade not only celebrates Dej's exceptional talent but also highlights Thailand's culinary prowess on the global stage.

Dej Kewkacha's visionary approach to pastry artistry has not only elevated Thailand's culinary landscape but has also exemplified the transformative power of passion and ingenuity in the world of gastronomy. As a trailblazer in Southeast Asia's culinary scene, Dej continues to inspire and innovate, leaving an indelible mark on the global culinary map.

Justin Lee: Master of Desserts

Chef Justin Lee's culinary journey is a testament to dedication and passion, with a focus on crafting exquisite desserts that captivate the senses. His career began in Korea, where he honed his skills at prestigious restaurants before embarking on an international odyssey that enriched his expertise.

After stints at renowned establishments like Il Centro Restaurant in Brisbane, Australia, and Clooney in New Zealand—voted the best restaurant in the country—Chef Justin Lee emerged as a pastry virtuoso. Notably, he clinched victory in a pastry competition judged by Antonio Bachour, a renowned U.S.-based pastry chef, and contributed to the success of Miann, acclaimed as the best pastry shop in New Zealand.

In 2016, Chef Justin Lee returned to Korea and made culinary history by launching JL Dessert Bar, the nation's pioneering restaurant-bar concept that seamlessly melds dessert artistry with the ambiance of a bar. His innovative approach to dessert creation has garnered accolades and acclaim, exemplifying his commitment to pushing the boundaries of culinary creativity.

Exploring the Concept of JL Dessert Bar

JL Dessert Bar in Seoul represents a groundbreaking concept, where patrons can indulge in an enticing fusion of dessert and bar culture. Chef Justin Lee's vision is realized through a menu that showcases the marriage of sophisticated desserts with curated beverage pairings, offering a unique and memorable dining experience.

For Chef Justin Lee, the essence of cooking lies in meeting the desires of guests by harnessing a diverse range of chocolates and seasonal ingredients—each akin to the "flowers of dessert." His culinary creations are a testament to his commitment to elevating dessert-making into an art form that delights and surprises.

To aspiring chefs, Chef Justin Lee offers invaluable advice derived from his culinary journey. He emphasizes the importance of dedication and fearlessness, urging budding chefs to prioritize passion over external glamour. For Chef Justin Lee, culinary excellence is forged through unwavering commitment and a relentless pursuit of culinary excellence, epitomizing the spirit of gastronomic innovation.

The atmosphere at JL dessert bar in Hannam-dong, recently reopened by Chef Justin Lee, was filled with joyous laughter from the crowd. And, above all, the desserts crafted by the ingenious Chef Dej and Justin were simply divine. It was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. Cocktails by the talented bartender of SOKO, Kyle even added more sparkles!!


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