As a child, Leading Seaman Tae Goh remembered hours in the car with his father driving to their favourite Korean barbecue restaurant far from their home in Seoul.
His chef’s mindset started with his father’s love of food and developed in ship’s galleys and Sydney restaurants, where he sharpened his skills after emigrating to Australia in 2003.
Joining Navy to see the world and develop his craft, a high-profile posting as chef to the fleet commander after time at sea was an opportunity to create bespoke Western dishes with a Korean twist for VIPs.
“I wasn’t able to sleep when I had a function the next day because I was so nervous I wanted everything to be perfect,” Leading Seaman Goh said.
Among other dishes, Leading Seaman Goh served his take on traditional Korean staples such as bibimbap, a rice and vegetable dish, alongside short ribs or slow-cooked brisket.
“Bibimbap sounds boring but it’s actually really nice,” he said.
“The sauces are beautiful and it’s really healthy as well."
Now posted to HMAS Kuttabul, he includes Korean inspired cuisine in the galley menu when given the opportunity.
He said Korean-style pork barbacue and beef bulgogi, thinly cut meat marinated in sweet and sour sauce, were popular dishes.
Korean fried chicken burgers with slaw were first pick for many sailors visiting the Kuttabul galley for lunch.
Leading Seaman Goh shared a drive that carried many in the industry through long hours and stressful conditions.
He said a work placement with one of Australia’s top pastry chefs was an “eye opening” moment.
“I was told it would be tough, working 14-hours a day, but other pastry chefs do the same so you can’t complain,” Leading Seaman Goh said.
“There are a lot of chefs who are passionate with strong resilience to work long hours.
“When I get the chance, I try to inspire young chefs with that kind of mind frame.”
Like 30 per cent of all other Australians, Leading Seaman Goh was born overseas, a diversity reflected in Australian Defence Force (ADF) recruiting numbers.
Over the past 20 years, recruiters recorded a 10 per cent rise in the number of people born overseas enlisting in the ADF.
In 2001, 152 people born overseas joined the ADF, accounting for 7.5 per cent of enlistments.
This figure jumped to 17 per cent in 2021, with 1159 immigrants enlisting.
These statistics track national trends, with migration to Australia the dominant component of population growth.
Harmony Week, from March 21–27, celebrates cultural diversity in the community.
The theme this year is Everyone Belongs.