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