Sunée, Kim 1970-

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Sunée, Kim 1970-

PERSONAL:

Surname pronounced "soo-nay"; born 1970, in Korea; daughter of adoptive parents. Education: Graduated from a liberal-arts college in FL.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Birmingham, AL. E-mail—[email protected]ée.com.

CAREER:

Cottage Living magazine, Birmingham, AL, founding food editor. Worked as food editor for Southern Living magazine.

WRITINGS:

Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home (memoir), Grand Central Publishing (New York, NY), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Kim Sunée's memoir, Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home, traces her unusual life and the important roles played in it by food and travel. Sunée was born in South Korea, and at a very young age she was abandoned in a crowded marketplace by her mother, who told her she would return, but never did. Three days later, the hungry child was picked up by the authorities. She was adopted by a well-to-do American couple and raised in a large, extended family that included another adopted Korean child. The family lived in New Orleans, where Kim was well educated and well cared for. Although she felt her adoptive parents were somewhat distant and detached, she formed a close relationship with her grandfather, "Poppy," who enjoyed cooking and sharing meals that were simple but memorable. On occasion, he would put on a wig and imitate the famous chef Julia Child while he cooked.

As a college student, Sunée created an independent-study program and found many opportunities to travel. She spent time in Sweden, French Guiana, and various locations in France, including Provence, Nice, and Paris. In France she met Olivier Baussan, a businessman and the founder of a high-end line of natural skincare products and cosmetics, L'Occitane. Though Baussan was many years her senior and married, she fell in love with him and became his mistress. Baussan supported her well, and she was freely accepted by much of his social circle, hosting dinners at his country home and taking unofficial charge of his daughter, Laure. He traveled frequently, taking Sunée along as his companion, and when at home, she had access to wonderful kitchens in which to indulge her passion for cooking. Baussan even set Sunée up as the proprietor of a poetry bookshop in the heart of Paris. Yet, as comfortable as her life was, she eventually left Baussan and France to return to New Orleans, looking for a sense of belonging, or of home.

That search for a sense of belonging is at the heart of her memoir, and it eludes her throughout her travels. She recalls a trip to South Korea with Baussan, during which she hoped to find some keys to her past, or clues about the brother she dimly remembered. She found, however, that her sense of dislocation was greatest of all in her native country, where there was nobody to welcome her or acknowledge her existence. While dining with Baussan, she realized other Koreans thought she was a prostitute, as no other Korean women will typically be seen dining out with white men. She uncovers no information about herself or her brother.

In Trail of Crumbs, almost every episode of Sunée's life is associated with a memorable dish or meal, her book includes many recipes and vivid descriptions of food, from gourmet dishes to humble, hearty peasant fare. The book ends with its author still expressing her restlessness and her sense of searching. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found her writing "engaging," even if her insights on the subject of home and identity were ultimately "slight." A writer for Kirkus Reviews noted that Sunée's narrative "chronicles the entwining of food with security and love," providing readers with "vivid writing—and an inspiration to head to the kitchen." Trail of Crumbs was also praised by June Sawyers on a review appearing in SF Gate.com (San Francisco Chronicle Online). Sawyers said: "This sad and passionate story of displacement, of trying to find a place to call home, written with the touch of a poet, is a tale that you won't soon forget."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2007, Allison Block, review of Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home, p. 35.

Books, January 26, 2008, "Looking for Home: A Young Woman Gains a Sense of Herself and Her Place through Food and Cooking," p. 11.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2007, review of Trail of Crumbs.

Publishers Weekly, September 17, 2007, review of Trail of Crumbs, p. 44.

ONLINE

Cooking with Ideas,http://cookingwithideas.typepad.com/ (April 26, 2008), interview with Kim Sunée.

Hachette Book Group Web site,http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/ (August 20, 2008), author profile.

Kim Sunée Home Page,http://www.kimsunee.com (August 20, 2008).

Metro Boston,http://www.metrobostonnews.com/ (January 9, 2008), Allison Williams, "‘Crumbs’ of Memory: Kim Sunée on the Tastes and Travels of Her Search for Identity," interview.

New York Times Online,http://query.nytimes.com/ (February 20, 2008), Mimi Read, "Life as a Repast, Not Yet Complete,"

Odysseyhttp://www.nola.com/ (January 12, 2008), Susan Larson, "Kim Sunée's Memoir Takes Readers on a Romantic Delicious Odyssey."

SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle Online), http://www.sfgate.com/ (January 20, 2008), June Sawyers, "Sunée Leaves a ‘Trail of Crumbs’ in Her Search for Herself."

World Hum,http://www.worldhum.com/ (June 2, 2008), Joanna Kakissis, "Kim Sunée: Travel, Food and the Search for Home," interview with Kim Sunée.