Beverly Min Thiagarajan,
Pianist and Chef.

Thank you for learning more about my story beyond the bite.

Beverly Min Thiagarajan pianist and chef

Meet Beverly Min Thiagarajan

Beverly Thiagarajan is a world-class concert pianist and music professor at Pepperdine University in Southern California. She’s also a gifted cook who makes many recipes from around the world, especially Korea, India, and Germany.


The Show Must Go On: How a World-Class Concert Pianist Found A New Audience Through Korean Street Food

Beverly Thiagarajan is a world-class concert pianist and music professor at Pepperdine University in Southern California. She’s also a gifted cook who makes many recipes from around the world, especially Korea, India, and Germany.

One of Beverly’s favorite dishes to make is called “Gimbap” (also known as kimbap). It is a traditional Korean dish that gets its name from gim (the seaweed wrapper) and bap (rice).

Gimbap is an on-the-go Korean staple, symbolic of snacks at various outings, events, and schools. It’s often sold on the streets by various food vendors in Korea.

Beverly learned how to make Gimbap when she was in her early 20s after watching her relatives and close friends prepare it for just about any occasion.


Watch how Beverly skillfully prepares her homemade Gimbap.

(And make sure you turn up your speakers! At the end of this video, you’ll hear a beautiful song in the background that Beverly plays on the piano called “Until I See You Again.” It was written and composed by her husband, Ashoka, who is a professional music composer.)

Public Market Goes Shopping with Beverly at The Galleria Market

The Public Market team had a great time shopping with Beverly for the Gimbap ingredients at one of her favorite ethnic markets, The Galleria Market in Koreatown.

Image Credit: Timeout-Stephanie Chung

After our shopping excursion, Beverly was kind enough to share her delicious Gimbap recipe with us.

Gimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Roll)

Makes 4 rolls

For the rice:

  • 2 cups short or medium grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 square sheets of unseasoned seaweed
  • For the filling:
  • 8 perilla leaves (sesame leaves)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 long strips of pickled radish
  • 8 long strips of pickled burdock root
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, diced

Wash the rice and cook with 2 cups of water. Transfer the cooked rice to a baking dish and mix with sesame oil and salt. Cover with a slightly dampened kitchen towel and let it cool completely.

Beat the eggs and cook with salt and pepper, gently rolling it like an omelet. When cool, slice into long strips.

Cook the ground beef and season it to your liking (salt and pepper, or soy sauce and sesame oil)

Prepare each vegetable ingredient and line them up on a platter.


  1. Take 1 sheet of seaweed and place it on a bamboo rolling mat.
  2. Dip your fingers in sesame oil and take 1/4 of the cooked rice.
  3. Spread the rice into a thin even layer, covering each corner and edge.
  4. Lay 2 perilla leaves across the rice, overlapping in the middle
  5. Start arranging the filling, one ingredient at a time, in a neat row across the rice.
  6. Gently nudging the fillings with your fingers to keep them inside, start rolling from the edge close to you.
  7. Make sure the bamboo mat goes around the entire roll and gently press to secure the seam.
  8. Repeat with remaining sheets.
  9. Rub the sharpened knife with a wet paper towel, and slice quickly in even thickness.

Another Delicious Korean Snack Food: Tteokbokki

Beverly also introduced us to another popular Korean dish called “Tteokbokki” (pronounced “tuk bow kee”). These are rice sticks you can purchase in many Korean specialty stores. Tteokbokki are typically pan fried and served with soy sauce or stewed in a spicy sauce.

Finding her Way in Life Through Music and Cooking

Beverly’s parents were both from Korea. However, Beverly was born in Berkeley, CA, where many relatives on her mother’s side of the family resided. Her husband, Ashoka, is of Indian and German descent, so Beverly cooks many dishes from those regions as well.

Beverly started playing the piano when she was only 2 ½ years old. She played every day with her mom, who was a pianist. She moved to Korea with her family when she was 4 ½.

Beverly was a shy and passive child. But whenever she played the piano, she was in her element and felt at ease, even at such a young age.

Beverly has fond early memories of her mother who was a wonderful cook and made delicious and memorable meals for her family.

Tragedy struck when Beverly was six years old. Her mom was killed in a car accident in Korea.

Naturally, Beverly and her family were heartbroken and devastated. She then spent her childhood in Korea, and then later in Boston, where she went to boarding school.

For Beverly, speaking and writing English was a struggle when she got back to the U.S. after living in Korea all those years. Playing the piano became her escape — it was her comfort zone where she could relax and be herself.

After giving her future a lot of thought, Beverly decided she would follow in her mom’s footsteps and become a pianist.

She earned her doctorate in piano from University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles and then became an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University.

During her time at USC, Beverly met her husband Ashoka, who is active in the orchestral and recording industry in addition to being a composer..

After the birth of her two sons, Beverly’s life and schedule changed dramatically. As a world-class concert pianist, she was used to working 12+ hour days practicing piano for her next performance.

But now that she had two young children to care for, she had to reduce her concert performances while still teaching part-time. She was no longer constantly on-the-go, traveling from concert to concert around the world.

Although she loved being a new mom, Beverly felt there was a void in her life because she was no longer performing often in front of large audiences at various concert halls.

Thus, she developed a bit of an identity crisis. She began to spend any free time she had studying recipes and playing the piano.

The Show Must Go On!

For Beverly, cooking meals at dinnertime now filled this void and helped her find a new identity — she was still “putting on a show,” but it was simply a different one from playing music at a concert!

Beverly discovered there were many similarities between performing at a concert and cooking elaborate meals for her family and friends. Both require intense patience, skill, and reflection.

She recounted, “I would always ask myself after a concert performance: ‘What went well? What went wrong? What can I improve upon for next time?’ Then, I started doing the same with my cooking.”

Beverly further reflected, “Playing music is hard, it’s never good enough. And that’s what makes us as professional musicians work so hard.”

Like performing at a concert hall, “performing” in the kitchen is also a challenge for Beverly, but this challenge energizes her to constantly improve her skills. For Beverly these days, whether it’s performing at a high-end concert hall or cooking a beautiful, healthy, and delicious meal for her family and friends.…the show must go on!

“When I moved to LA, the first thing I did was go to a Korean market and buy a pack of gimbap. And then I started making it myself.”

– Beverly Min Thiagarajan

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