Mŏkbar chef /owner Esther Choi grew up cooking traditional Korean food with her Korean-native grandmother. So while Esther was born in New Jersey and her early childhood spent in the state’s ocean-side town of Egg Harbor, Esther was always keenly aware of her Korean heritage. That awareness morphed into immersion when her family moved to Korea for three years, because her parents wanted to assure their children would cherish Korean culture. Their goal was enthusiastically embraced by Esther, whose mission is to broaden New Yorkers’ understanding and appreciation of Korean culture through her food.
She believes, “Food is the ambassador of a culture; it expresses all the elements that define a country – its history, social customs, language, geography and arts traditions. It is something passed from generation to generation. In my case from my grandmother to me. She taught me everything I know about food, how to love every ingredient; how to respect the process and thoughtful preparation of every dish.” Esther truly believes in the simplicity of dining and yet strives to deliver complex and perfectly executed traditional Korean cuisine with humility, demonstrating her true commitment to the authenticity of her Korean heritage.
Esther’s formal training as a chef began at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), continuing in the kitchens of ilili and La Esquina, as well as that of the Food Network. However, Esther began her professional education at 14 when she started working part-time in restaurants.
“To me, Korean food is not just about cooking and being a chef, it is about the love of family, culture, respect of my heritage and that is who I am as a person both personally and professionally. I want everyone to fall in love with Korean food and culture and that is my ultimate goal.”
Jennifer Choi is currently a Managing Partner as well as Controller for Mokbar. Jennifer received her degree in Business Management from Drexel University and comes from a background in Retail Finance for over 10 years at companies such as Tiffany & Co and David Yurman in New York City. Jennifer decided to open up Mokbar with sister, Chef Esther Choi- believing in the Chef's passion for introducing Korean food and culture into NYC.
The A Team
WANT TO JOIN A TEAM OF MOTIVATED, PASSIONATE AND FORWARD THINKING CHEFS? MOKBAR IS CURRENTLY HIRING LINE COOKS, SERVERS AND CASHIERS. TO APPLY, PLEASE SEND YOUR RESUME AND A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF WHY YOU’RE FIT FOR THE JOB TO JINA@MOKBAR.COM.