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Kore Spotlight Series: The Chef

Kore Spotlight Series: The Chef

The Everyday Man, Elevated.

The Kore man works hard. He works with his hands. He doesn’t hesitate. He is strong - mentally and physically. He plays with fire, trades stock, rides horses, pumps iron, saves lives, runs the range. He’s the guy changing tires, the guy training soldiers, the guy running the meeting, the guy pouring beer. 

He is you. The best version of you. 

Introducing Kore Spotlight Series

Name: Corey Coull
City: San Diego
Profession: Chef & Coffee Area Leader

Rapid Fire Questions

Drink of choice? Willett Whiskey
Guilty pleasure? Butter
Go to seasoning? Fresh peppers
Biggest foodie no no? Low sodium...
Best date meal? Cheese & charcuterie
Best hangover food? Pizza

Walk us through your career.

I always wanted to work with my hands. I began working in the kitchen when I was 15 years old at a local Italian restaurant tossing pizza and washing dishes. I truly fell in love with cooking when I went to college at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. There I learned a world of knowledge including flavor, cooking techniques and was also exposed to all the opportunities within the hospitality industry. Eventually I drifted from “back of house” in the commercial kitchen and began working “on the floor” or “front of house” in different restaurants: from serving to bartending, working the floor as a sommelier and even became a floor manager. This all took place in New York City where I was working late nights on my feet but got to hone my hospitality skills in a way that you can’t imagine. 

I also came to realize that I needed to get out of the big city to build a more sustainable future… less dive bars, more coffee shops. 

I packed my bags, convinced my now wife and we hopped on a one-way flight to California where I began my career in coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee. That was over 3 years ago! 

Would you describe cooking as a hobby, career or something else entirely?

Something else. Yes, it won over my wife's parents and yes, I don't get paid to do it anymore; however it is still such a significant part of my day-to-day life. 

I never grew up with great food. When my mother would tell me she was making dinner I would ask "what flavor hamburger helper tonight?" 

This was a problem that I knew I needed to fix. I knew there was more out there. So when I jumped full force into the culinary world, cooking engulfed me with sensory pleasure that I still get to experience everyday. Cooking for family, friends and myself is, in a sense, therapeutic: it calms me from the chaos of each day and makes me whole again.

Favorite restaurant?

Gramercy Tavern in NYC. I'm biased because I worked there but it honestly is an exceptional experience every time. 

Name a place you’d like to travel to for their food. 

China. It’s a massive country and such a diverse culinary world that is too difficult to tap into without being there. 

What was your biggest takeaway from culinary school?

Growing up. I still think back to all of the people who were in my life telling me that culinary school would be a waste of time, money and energy and that I could get the same experience working in a restaurant. Part of that judgement is in fact true. You can work in a restaurant and learn how to hold a knife, spatchcock a chicken and learn why still to this day America doesn't have it’s own cuisine under the roof of one restaurant. 

However, in culinary school, you are exposed to a world renowned network of culinary talent, allowed unlimited resources and allotted the time to fail gloriously. 

Culinary school did that for me. It was patient and forgiving. 

What would you say to someone who’s new to cooking?

Stop reading the recipe, just concentrate on making it taste good. Also salt and fat are your friends. Don't skimp on them.

What’s your pet peeve in the kitchen?

"Yes chef". Stop calling me chef because I'm not calling you chef.

Who do you look up to professionally? Personally?

I really look up to my mentor from Union Square Hospitality Group: Kevin Richer. A remarkable guy who taught me a lot about hospitality, running a business and giving a damn. He also has spent well over a decade in one organization which is insanely admirable and something I may never do yet highly respect. 

Tell us about the most impactful meal you’ve ever experienced.

I actually have 2 paintings hanging in my dining room from Oaxaca where I enjoyed my most memorable meal... My first international trip was to Mexico City with a friend. We drove to Oaxaca where we had toasted crickets on the street, a fancy mole tasting and a rustic meal made by 4 sisters in a home kitchen (we were the only ones in the restaurant yet it took us 4+ hours to get food because they made literally everything from scratch). My most memorable meal that trip was actually in a local market. One morning we went to have breakfast where we sat down and were served room temperature orange juice, bacon, eggs and watched all of the purveyors setting up their stands. I remember flies hovering around all of the fresh meat and produce and kids walking through the market selling paintings and trinkets they made with their families. It was a really special day. I felt like I was experiencing authentic Mexico - a simple meal in a real environment cooked by people who have been taught by their mother and their mother and so on - techniques passed down for generations. You don’t get that type of experience in a restaurant.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Getting married. Yeah, yeah, yeah but really. This chick moved across the country with me, adopted the best dog ever and then trusted me to pack our bags again to move as close to the Mexican border as we could. How you ask? I told her the tacos are too good to pass up in San Diego. She didn't hesitate to say yes. You marry that person fellas.

Weirdest food experience you’ve had?

Sorry but food isn't weird if you enjoy it: next question please. 

What are words that you live by in the kitchen?

More salt. More fat.

Pick one emoji to describe yourself.

Palm in face. It's the one I use most because I encounter lots of palm-to-face moments. Most recently, my wife asked me to cook a butter-free meal. Palm, meet face.

Tell us why you love your Kore belt.

I tend to eat a lot and drink just as much whiskey. I really like how you can loosen up the belt without it being too obvious. Gotta make that gut feel a bit less confined if you know what I mean. Pro tip: sip on a digestif (my favorite is calvados) after a rich meal to help you digest and even prepare you for round two.

What specific appeal does it have that appeals to you, as a chef?

I really like how versatile the Kore belt is in appearance. It can easily be worn with dress pants, jeans, chef pants and scrubs. 

A good belt and a good knife are the same thing. You shouldn’t have to think twice about slicing through a steak or holding your pants up. These are the most important, yet basic things in life... you don’t want to be caught hacking at a steak with your pants down. 

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