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Chef interviews

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Chef

Thank you

Jun Tanaka

Interviewed February 2009

Jun Tanaka is the talented chef at The Ninth, after having bean head chef of Pearl in Holborn for several years. He has had a long career in some of the most prestigious kitchens in London, and is a regular on TV these days.

Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?

I started cooking in 1991.

Q – Where did you train to cook?

All my training has been here in London. I only ever wanted to work in Michelin starred restaurants and I was lucky enough to start at Le Gavroche. Over the next 10 years I worked at Chez Nico, Les Saveurs, The Capital, Marco Pierre White The Restaurant and The Square.

Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?

The restaurants that I have worked in are all quite classically French but I prefer to eat food that is lighter and more contemporary. This is reflected in my style of cooking.

Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?

I don't believe that there is one magic formula that you can apply to create a successful restaurant. It is different in every case, that is why so many of them fail. It is essential to know and understand what works for you.

Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?

I don't have a signature dish as I don't believe in keeping dishes on for too long. On this current menu I enjoy cooking the scallops with ginger, crisp pork and rhubarb tart.

Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?

I look forward to produce that are only available for short periods, I always feel exicted when the Morel season is about to start or when the first game birds are shot. I believe you appreciate them more when they are not always available. You wouldn't want Christmas every day !

Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?

I do most of my eating out on a Sunday when the restaurant is closed. I love Arbutus and La Petite Maison. Both restaurants have a relaxed atmosphere, the food is elegantly simple and incredibly tasty. After work on a Saturday I can usually be found in HK diner in Chinatown.

What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?

I guess with hindsight working for Marco was one of the highlights. I wouldn't have called it a fun experience and if you had asked me back then I would have said that I was in hell, but looking back, I have some fantastic stories!

What would be your “last request” dish?

It would have to be something cooked by my mother, a bit of a cliche but true! She makes a fantastic Japanese curry!

Is there another chef that you most admire?

Marco Pierre White.

Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?

You only need 2 qualities to make it as a chef. A true passion and love of food and and real determination.

Any final thoughts you’d like to add?     

My first book 'Simple to Sensational' comes out in May

Current Restaurant

Pearl

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