June Kim is a Brooklyn-based illustrator whose work has appeared in TCFS EGG products. With a crazy obsession for EGGS, she is very much looking forward to publishing an illustrated EGG cookbook soon! Young Ah Kim, TCFS’s Creative director met June at her studio in Greenpoint.
I really enjoy making people laugh, more so as I’m getting older.
I feel free in this atmosphere where people do what they please, be who they are.
Sometimes I worry that it would be stagnant to live in one city so long, then I wonder, ‘where would I go if I leave New York?’
How did you get so interested in egg dishes?
As a child, I often grumbled over meal time, but I liked to eat whenever there were eggs. My mom called me an ‘egg monster’.
At the start of making food themed comics, I noticed that there were a lot of egg stories that I wanted to tell, so I started to research egg dishes and draw comics. There are countless egg dishes from all over the world, some of which I tried to cook myself, then I got into it. I read books after books, about cooking eggs, biology, history, marketing even about raising hens. It's all so fascinating to me, how humble ingredients bring so much to our daily lives in many forms.
Did you enjoy the egg restaurant that we visited?
The eggs were fresh and cooked perfectly to order. I've seen more egg themed restaurant opening in recent years, which is exciting, but I wish there was more cultural variety in the menus. Right now they are all kind of alike, with their brunch-centered fairs.
It seems that you go traveling a lot to taste and study egg dishes. Please tell me about about your special egg gourmet trip.
It’s not that I go only for eggs, but I try not to miss anything. When I visited Portugal, I tried various desserts made with egg yolks, and not only the famous egg tarts of Belem.
I learned that egg yolk desserts were the result of Portugese nuns and monks through their endeavor to use up the remaining yolk after using eggwhites to starch clear broths. I also took a cooking class to learn to make fresh egg pasta in Italy, the home of pasta. It is always worthwhile because every country has its own egg dishes.
When I become curious about foreign egg dishes I just search restaurants in New York City, where you always have a good chance of finding them. But I do have plans to visit some cities that aren't my favorite, only to eat their famous "signature" egg dishes.
Your egg dish cartoon is about to be published. Could I have a sneak peek?
My agent and I just started shopping for publisher, so it's going to take some time to see it in bookstores.
‘Eggs Show’ (working title) is a collection of cartoon essays about eggs packed with instruction and humor. Each essay is a combination of my personal stories based on the dishes, including how tos and basic cooking technics. But unlike those fancy cookbooks, I make mistakes and mess up, which I don't edit out for the readers. What's a better way to learn how to do things than watching others’ failure? (Probably watching your own, but with my book, you can laugh while doing so.)
It is weighted towards my preferences (yolk to whites, oriental omelet to western), but I only selected the content after trying everything I could. Except for macarons which I have zero desire to make.
I like your chic humor code. You are drawing comic cartoons and serious ones. Which is more your style?
For me, that’s the best praise I could get. I really enjoy making people laugh, more so as I’m getting older. Sometimes my friends laugh more when I never intended them to, and I wonder if maybe I’m an amusing person, not a funny one. There is a huge gap between the two.
While I was drawing cartoons for Too Cool For School, I realized that funny cartoons are hard to make. In the sketch process I think, “Yeah, this is funny enough.” But then when I start coloring I think, “I will cherish anyone, who laugh at the lamest cartoon in the history of comics.”
It’s been a long time since I drew sad comics, but I want to draw some more in the future. No matter how sorrowful the scene, I can't resist the urge to put comic relief on the next page, to make it bittersweet, like I did in my first work ’12 days’.
Tragedy and comedy are harmonious like something sweet and salty. Life often brings us moments of ‘This is not funny at all' and ‘how could I bare it if I don't laugh?’ at the same time — even if you don't see it that way when you go through it.
Tell me about your New York.
New York is my home. It is not because I’ve lived here longer than in Korea.
I feel free in this atmosphere where people do what they please and are free to be who they are. That is the biggest reason why I love New York.
It gives me such comfort that the people of New York don’t mind other peoples’ business. We've seen them all. There always will be more odd, unique people than you, no matter how much of a bizarre thing you pull. You can count on it.
When I visit other cities, I lose my patience to any inconveniences and complain, “this is BS!” or “so backward!" However, I accept the haughtiness of New Yorkers with open heart, the breakdown of the old subway cars on the weekends and Chihuahua sized pizza rat.
I feel especially proud of my beautiful Brooklyn neighborhood, where the huge street trees roof the streets, where all the banners — rainbow flag, 'immigrants welcome’, and ‘black lives matter’ — are hanging on a church facade.
It's ironic that I was a part of gentrification 15 years ago and now I resent new development and ugly highrises. Sometimes I worry that it would be stagnant to live in one city so long, then I wonder, ’where would I go if I leave New York?’
You drew illustrations of egg masks for Too Cool For School. Egg masks are the best of bestseller items at Sephora US and around the whole world. Do you want to introduce your skincare routine? (You can skip it, if you like.)
I will skip it... No one will be inspired by my skincare routine...
Okay and accepted. Thank you!
as told to Too Cool For School
New York City, August 2017