The newest restaurant on the Alfred scene is Temple. Temple serves vegan Korean food. It’s located at 56 N Main St or, for those of us who have been here for a few years, where Nana’s used to be. The hours of operation right now are 11 am to 2:30 pm Monday through Friday. You can order food by calling Temple at (607) 247-5022 or on their website: templeinalfred.com or just come on in and order. I have the privilege and honor to not only work at Temple but also to have sat down with Temple’s owner, Kevin Em and ask some questions.
Q: What made you choose Alfred?
A: My wife and I landed in Alfred because she received a teaching position at Alfred University's Ceramics Department as the IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, access) generator under the Dean Team. As a recent MFA graduate, this was a huge career opportunity, so we decided to relocate from Ann Arbor Michigan to Alfred about 6 months ago. Since arriving here, the community has lent so much support not only to support the opening of Temple but also getting behind our goals of increasing awareness of Korean food, healthy eating habits, and how much food workers put on the line to feed residents during a public health crisis.
Q: What made you interested in cooking food?
A: I started cooking food after getting laid off at a tech start-up (please read "my journey from the tech sector to the kitchen in Radical Humility”, copy available in-store). Food was a way to work with my hands, to take pleasure in bringing family recipes to life, and to hear/document the many stories of food workers I've worked alongside in my writing. And to be fair, cooking was a great way to win the heart of my partner–it's a life skill that everyone should put the time into mastering!
Q: Why Korean cuisine?
A: Korean food is going through a fad at the current moment! Everyone has gochujang, sesame oil, and marinated beef on their mind, or at least, on their social media. As a chef, I'd like to capitalize on this historical juncture with socially-conscious trends, such as veganism, environmentalism, and supporting local businesses.
Q: Why Vegan and Why Temple?
A: The philosophy behind Temple is based on the time I spent cooking for 18 Buddhist monks at Daeheung-sa. I woke at 3 in the morning to drive up the mountain and serve breakfast and lunch to people practicing non-violence through meditation and a vegan diet. The ingredients used in this humble, yet exquisite diet blew me away! The soy sauce and bean paste that had been fermenting for over 100 years, loaded with umami and bursting with potential urged me to bring this rich, gut-friendly and delicious culinary tradition to Western New York.
Q: What has been your favorite thing about Alfred so far?
A: My favorite thing about Alfred is the influx of bright, young people that cycle through every year. We're blessed with new ideas, new personas, new dietary restrictions (!) that Temple must adapt to. It keeps us on our toes! Also, the network of local business owners that have supported this business, from farmers' market stand to full-service restaurant, has been critical to our success thus far. Thank you, Alfred!
By Raven Scarupa