CHANG SUP SHIN – CEO OF 1004 GOURMET – Interview
The renowned Asian specialty delicatessen 1004 Gourmet is renowned for supplying fresh & quality Asian ingredients, produce and products to big chains such as Carrefour, as well as the region’s top dining powerhouses including Nobu at Atlantis, The Palm; Burj Al Arab and Armani Hotel; Zuma. Envisioned by Chang Sup Shin the CEO of 1004 Gourmet, who left his hometown South Korea in 1987, and journeyed across the world gathering the expertise and know-how to allow for his current success in Dubai.
We spoke to Chang Sup Shin, about his journey and future plans and learned how he reshaped 1004 Gourmet into a high-end concept store with an expansive product line, inclusive of an Asian supermarket, a premium butchery, a specialty coffee shop and a Korean cosmetics store, ‘Lamise Beauty’, led by his wife, Wooyeon Park.
Trending Dubai: Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start your business?
Chang Sup Shin: Our family came to Dubai in 1992 and my father had spent most of his years in the textile industry. In 2008, he opened a Korean-centric supermarket in Al Barsha (1004 Mart) because he saw a gap for better quality and variety of Korean products for the residents in the area. I joined the company in 2010 and started to import Japanese products and created a new sales channel by selling to hotels and restaurants. Although we catered towards Koreans in the beginning, I felt that more people wanted to discover East Asian cuisine and that’s why we opened our new shop, 1004 Gourmet, in The Greens. It is a multi-dimensional shopping experience where you can find all the ingredients to cook Korean, Japanese, Thai and Chinese food at home whilst enjoying specialty coffee and Asian desserts at Kaffe Bloom and testing the best selection of Korean cosmetics at Lamise Beauty.
Trending Dubai: How is the market for Asian particularly Korean and Japanese food and cuisine?
Chang Sup Shin: Although Japanese cuisine has been popular for decades, Korean food is getting a lot of spotlights now. This is thanks to the influence of Korean immigrants around the world, Korean music and TV dramas, which have been popular in recent years. Relative to Japanese restaurants, there aren’t many places to enjoy Korean food in Dubai but restaurants like Shogun and Mannaland have opened in more locations so we feel like the attention is growing. Also, the internet has played a big role in spreading the word about Korean cuisine with Youtube celebrities like Maangchi teaching over 3 million netizens how to cook Korean food at home.
Trending Dubai: How did you come up with the idea of Kaffe Bloom?
Chang Sup Shin: The first step of hand drip coffee is the ‘blooming’ process which is when hot water is poured on ground coffee which de-gasses and releases the CO2 trapped inside the beans. The name came from the inspiration of hand drip coffee which we specialize in our cafe. I believe it is one of the best ways to enjoy coffee as you can feel the aroma and flavors of the beans, which we source from at least 4 or more countries. It is very important for us to have different sources to retain the curiosity of our customers so we try our best to have different origins and beans on a monthly basis. Our beans are roasted by famous specialty coffee roasters in Berlin (The Barn) and Korea (Fritz Coffee). Besides coffee, we sell other popular Asian drinks such as green tea, Thai iced tea, and Milk tea and Asian desserts such as ‘bingsoo’ or ‘kakigori’ which is delicately shaved flavored ice.
Trending Dubai: How would you define the cuisine type you serve at Kaffe Bloom? And what sets it apart from the rest?
Chang Sup Shin: Our menu is a selection of breakfast and lunch dishes with an Asian inspiration. I’m against having too many options on the menu so it’s very simple and we have something for all dietary requirements. We do our best to use high-quality ingredients but also make an effort to keep reasonable prices. One of the most popular dishes is Kimchi Tuna Melt. We use bread from a Korean Bakery, canned tuna and kimchi from Korea and QP Mayonnaise from Japan and original swiss cheese. It’s simple, delicious, hearty and delicious.
Besides the food, we have a shaved ice dessert called ‘Bingsoo’ in Korean or ‘Kakigori’ in Japanese. With a special machine from Japan, we slice ice into flakes as thin as paper and top it off with our homemade syrups and toppings. The texture is extremely smooth and dissolves in your mouth. I’d say this is the closest experience to eating clouds.
Trending Dubai: Do you have any expansion plans?
Chang Sup Shin: Our vision is to open up more shops not just in Dubai or Abu Dhabi but in the region and around the world. With 10 years of expertise and the increase in the popularity of Asian food, we are confident that the appetite for our products will get bigger.