Chef features and interviews
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Jun Tanaka Pearl Restaurant & Bar London
Jun, wonderful to come here and see you. Let's start by talking a little bit about your background, Gavroche, Chez Nico, Capital, Marco Pierre White twice, phenomenal, phenomenal background how did that all come about?
I think a lot of it has to do with my parents they were very encouraging from when I was a young and food has always been a passion of mine whether it was eating it or whether it was learning to how to cook it. So for me to become a chef just seemed very natural. I've always been more artistic than academic, my brother's a surgeon so he got all the brains and I kind of got, what was left.
Some would argue that's quite artistic as well, surgery?
Not really, he's in orthopaedics.
Yeah plastic surgeons are artists, orthopaedics they're butchers.
((laughs)) That's what they say.
Nice way of putting it. But the restaurants you chose Jun, they are very high profile and very specific type of restaurant was that part of the plan?
Yeah that was the plan from the beginning. So up until I was 19 I pretty much screwed everything up in terms of academics. I loved school, made some of my closest friends there, it was the best years of my life but I enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons. When I did my A levels, I got awful grades, the only thing that I could get onto was a hotel management course. It was a 3 year course but I got kicked out after the 1st year.
Was that here in London?
That was in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.
So are you from the West Country? Are you a West Country lad?
No, no from London. My parents have always been in London, well when they first came over to England when I was seven we lived in London. Then I went off to boarding school when I was 14 and then I was there until 18 and that was in the Cotswolds and then my parents went back to Japan and it was at that point I decided to stay in England.
Let's talk a little bit about Japan and your heritage if we can. I notice today some of the dishes you do, there are some influences there is that a conscious thing or"¦
No not at all. A lot of people do think that my food is a fusion of Japanese and French but it's not"¦.
I mean there's no mention of that in any literature I've found about you actually it's modern French and I only raised it then because you said about your parents coming from Japan so it was just to understand if there was a heritage connection with your food or not.
The dish that I cooked today is unique in the way that I've used the seaweed and the dashi which is typical Japanese stock but it's a one off. I try to stay away from that because I don't like"¦
Do you consciously try and stay away from that?
Yes because I don't like the term fusion and to actually do it well you have to have a profound understanding of French and Japanese cuisine. You know it's taken me 20 years to understand French cuisine up until this point. For me to then say, "Yeah I can incorporate it with Japanese,"