An Afternoon at CJ Foods

Late in May, I had the opportunity, along with a handful of other Hanyang Business School students to tour the CJ Foodville (CJ푸드빌) headquarters near Dongdaemun (동대문) with the Glitters team. We met at Hanyang Station on a hot and humid Friday afternoon and took the subway to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (동대문역사문화공원역). From there, we were a short walk to the CJ Foodville building.

The quickest way to get to the CJ Foodville Building from Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station is to get out at Exit 5 and walk along the main road. The CJ Foodville building (Source: Google Maps)

The Tour

The entire first floor and basement of the CJ Foodville building are dedicated restaurant spaces for both employees and the public. The first floor features major chains like Tous les Jours (뚜레쥬르), A Twosome Place (투썸플레이스) and the recently launched Juice Solution. The basement features more of its upper-scale restaurants, including the American-focused Bibigo (비비고) and the high-end Western-style buffet VIPS (빕스).

Some of the Tous les Jours Atelier baked goods on display on the first floor of the CJ Foodville building (Source: https://www.facebook.com/glittersinhubs/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf)

We learned that this feature of the building was called CJ Foodworld (CJ푸드월드) and normally featured a number of restaurants owned by CJ. Exclusive to this location only though, was that half of the restaurants in the basement served a variety of cuisines from around the world and were open only to serve CJ employees. The purpose of these places was to allow CJ team members to experience new foods that would help inform the decisions they made in their work, in addition to satisfying their appetites.

A wayfinding sign that shows the number of restaurants in the basement of CJ Foodworld (Source: http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20120127000926&mod=skb)

The following photos are some of the exclusive restaurants present in the CJ building (Source: http://www.cjfoodworld.com/en/branch/branch_friend01_introduce.asp)

The following photos are some of the exclusive restaurants present in the CJ building (Source: http://www.cjfoodworld.com/en/branch/branch_friend01_introduce.asp)

Also located on the first floor of the building are public-facing class kitchens. CJ hosts a variety of free cooking classes for the public. Anyone is able to sign up for a free cooking class and learn how to cook a new meal using CJ ingredients every step of the way. I have a visit to this place in the next few weeks lined up and would highly recommend that if you’re like me, and your Korean is just at a beginner level, that you bring along a Korean friend who can translate for you, as the classes are all taught in Korean.

A shot of the kitchen studio being used for a foreigner-focused cooking class (Source: https://kdtokimchi.com/2013/02/04/sundays-in-seoul-free-cooking-class-at-cj-food-world/)

Following the tour of the first and second floors of the building, we were able to go further up and got to tour the research and development (R&D) floors of CJ Foods. Here, although we weren’t able to take any photos, we got to see how employees worked at developing and refining the food developed for all of CJ’s brands. We even walked past another test kitchen that was used for product research. CJ had invited a number of regular people to come in, sample and comment some of the newer foods they had developed. The feedback from these people would go back into making tweaks to how the new products would be developed in the future.

Next, our entire group settled in a CJ Foods boardroom and were able to hear from many CJ team members, including CJ Foods Executive Vice President, Bryan Shin. We got to hear about the overall vision for the CJ subsidiary, the story behind some of their brands, the thought process behind some of their strategies and even some of the personal experiences from some of the team.

This portion of the tour was very much the highlight for me. Every once in awhile in Canada, I have the opportunity to meet people doing incredible work for amazing companies, and I really appreciated being able to have a similar experience while studying in Korea.

The start of the presentation we received after our tour (Source: https://www.facebook.com/glittersinhubs/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf)

A group photo of us Hanyang (한양) students with some of the CJ Foodville team (Source: https://www.facebook.com/glittersinhubs/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf)

To wrap up the tour, we were lucky enough to be treated by the CJ team to dinner at VIPS, located in the basement of the building. We were all served three different types of steak as well has free-reign over what got from and how frequently we visited their salad bar (which included everything from 5+ different types of salads, Western-style pastas and appetizer foods from all over the world).

Video of one of the steaks we received, flambed right in front of us.

 

Article by Kevin from Canada

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