CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented cabbage with a spicy, salty and tangy flavor.
The desire to share this unique dish with community members is what motivates Booyong Kim to operate Mama Boo’s Kitchen, a small kimchi-making business she started several years ago out of her north Cheyenne home.
People can purchase jars of the homemade spicy cabbage along with other Korean delicacies Kim creates, like chili oil and fermented garlic, at the downtown storefront 307 Made or at her booths at local farmers markets.
However, those who are interested in taking a more hands-on approach to learning about Korean cuisine can sign up for Kim’s kimchi-making class, which she offers once a month at her home.
For $75 a person, Kim provides participants with ingredients including cabbage, spicy chili paste, garlic and rice flour and teaches them how to prepare the dish. She also serves appetizers that participants can try with the kimchi, such as rice or vegetables.
Born and raised in South Korea, Kim grew up in a mountainous area on the outskirts of Seoul, the capital city. It was there she learned how to grow and cook a variety of vegetables and edible weeds.
Kim, her husband and their daughters immigrated to the U.S. in 1991 to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then moved to Cheyenne in 1998.
With few Asian markets or eateries around during that time, Kim frequently made kimchi and cooked other Korean meals for her family.
It wasn’t until Kim’s husband, who worked as a massage therapist, asked her to show his clients how to prepare healthy meals that Kim started sharing her recipes.
“A lot of people had a desire to change their diet, but they don’t know how,” Kim said. “That’s why I started teaching them how to eat vegetables and change their diet to more plant-based. I found that was really rewarding.”
Kim taught people how to make nutritious Korean and American dishes for years. When her husband retired and their children had grown up, Kim wanted to find something meaningful to do with her talents.
“I needed to find my thing, my passion, and I didn’t know what it was,” Kim said. “One day I was thinking, maybe because I like to teach, I like to meet new people … I should do cooking classes and sell kimchi.”
Although kimchi-making classes have and will always be a staple at Mama Boo’s Kitchen, Kim said she is interested in creating other cooking events for community members. Recently, she hosted her first Korean dinner date night, where she invited a few families into her home and made them traditional meals like stir-fried noodles and seafood pancakes.
“People ask me all the time that I should have a restaurant, but I never ever intend to go with that,” Kim said. “In a restaurant you’re cooking every day and sooner or later you’re going to be tired of it. I love cooking, serving others and seeing other people happy. I don’t want to lose that fun part.”
Mama Boo’s next kimchi class will take place on Jan. 28.
People can sign up for Mama Boo’s Kitchen classes by filling out her online form here. Limited seating is available.