Flash-grilled: Jun Tanaka

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Jun Tanaka The Ninth
Jun Tanaka is an American-born, Japanese-British chef with a dazzlingly CV that includes stints with Marco Pierre White, Phil Howard and Eric Chavot. He is chef patron at the Michelin-starred The Ninth in Fitzrovia.

What image do you currently have on your phone’s wallpaper?
Standard iPhone setting.

What was your first job?
Commis chef at Le Gavroche. I turned up on my first day wearing a lab coat, neckerchief, white trousers and a white trilby hat. Basically, I walked into the best restaurant in the UK looking like a cricket umpire. 

Gordon or Marco?
Can I have Phil Howard?

What was the last film you saw in the cinema? 
Deadpool 2. Not as good as the first one but still very watchable.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
Instant ramen noodles. I have to limit how many I buy, otherwise I would literally eat them every day.

Where are you going on your next holiday?
Copenhagen for some serous eating. 

What industry figure do you most admire (and why)?
Joe Grossmann (the founder of Patty and Bun). He started as a pop up six years ago and now runs 13 permanent sites and is growing. You would think that expanding at that rate would have a negative effect on the quality but, the burgers are just as good as they were on day one. He seems to have a limitless amount of energy and enthusiasm. His moto is ‘go large or go home'. I admire his tenacity and fearlessness. 

If you weren’t in restaurants, what would you do? 
Underwater photographer. I love diving and I think I’m a pretty good photographer, although my wife keeps telling me that I’m not.

Biggest regret?
I was offered a part as an extra on Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. I asked the chef if I could take the day off to film but he said no. I should have called in sick. 

Pet hate?

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
I want a low fat vegan menu, but I’m okay with the langoustine ravioli. 

Marmite: love it or hate it?         
Love it. 

Describe your cooking style in three words
Simple. Vibrant. Tasty. 

What country do you next want to visit?
Chile. I especially want to visit Patagonia. 

Most overrated food?
Summer truffles, they have absolutely no flavour. It's like eating cardboard. 

Restaurant czar for a day – what would you implement?
That’s easy. I would stop business rates. I have absolutely no idea what this money is used for. I even called the council to find out but they didn’t know themselves. 

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?

AA Gill back when I was cooking at Pearl restaurant. He likened one of my dishes to an M&S ready meal. I can still remember picking up an early copy around midnight. I quickly glanced at the review, saw the two out of five stars, walked around Soho for an hour until I had gained enough courage to actually read the review. it was a shocker. 

What made you want to become a chef?
I just love eating. 

What do you cook at home on your days off?
I rarely cook at home. I always eat out on my days off.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Be honest with yourself and ask why.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Pasta machine. 

iPhone or Android?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s all about the flavour.

What’s your earliest memory? 
My brother trying to lock me in a cupboard and my toe getting caught in the door as he slammed it shut. I still wince thinking about it. 

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Every couple of months I organise a steak night with some friends. We always try different restaurants but it’s usually meat focused. The last one was at Smokestak, which was fantastic. Their beef brisket is seriously tasty. 

Twitter or Instagram?

Tipple of choice?
Tuscan reds. 

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
A bucket load of Carabineros prawns. 

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