It’s important to gain experience in the best restaurants and hotels

Michelin Starred Chef, Jun Tanaka has made his way to the Upper House, Hong Kong. Of Japanese heritage, US-born, UK-raised and trained in Classic French culinary, Jun Tanaka is now ‘the guy’ behind the much anticipated opening of the Mediterranian cuisine restaurant ‘Salisterra’.

Chef Jun Tanaka trained under Marco Pierre White among other legendary chefs. He also owns a restaurant named 'The Ninth' which was awarded as a Michelin Star in 2017

What are you most excited about for Salisterra? What are the wow factors?

Having spent the last year working on this special project, I’m incredibly excited to see our vision for Salisterra finally come to life. The idea that guests on the other side of the world will be able to experience the kind of food I love to cook and eat, in a beautifully designed space overlooking Hong Kong’s skyline feels surreal and humbling.

In terms of the menu, I am excited to showcase our hand-crafted pasta! Fresh pasta is a real speciality at my own restaurant The Ninth, so I’m delighted to be able to introduce it to our guests at Salisterra. Grilled meat, fish and vegetables from a unique grill oven delivers distinct smoky flavours. For breakfast: hand-crafted morning pastries.

What challenges have you faced opening a restaurant in Asia for the first time?

It was only a week after we started working on the project that something totally unprecedented happened: an (almost) world-wide lockdown! At that point, we knew it was going to be a challenge. We had no choice but to pivot our approach to everything, from the way we collaborate to recipe testing and training the chefs. Chris Czerwinski , Chef de Cuisine even got Google glasses so that I can be there virtually at the kitchen pass during service.

I’ve been really impressed by everyone’s work ethic, tenacity and team spirit. I’m so grateful for their patience and willingness to try out new ideas. This journey has truly been a team effort, and one of a kind.

Why Mediterranean cuisine?

I trained in classic French cooking and have worked in several fine dining restaurants, where I was able to hone my skills and learn classic techniques. But when it comes to eating, I find myself drawn to lighter, fresher, more vibrant dishes that are simpler but packed with flavour. For me, the food of the Mediterranean reminds me of being on holiday. It’s comforting and warm and plentiful. Simple but satisfying. It makes me feel happy! I love that there’s a lot of focus on vegetables, pasta and seafood. The colours are so inviting and the warm hospitality really elevates the whole experience.

What's your advice for young chefs aspiring to become successful?

I think it’s important to gain experience in the best restaurants and hotels. While you’re working in the kitchen, always be curious and ask lots of questions.  Try and learn something new every day and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. These small daily improvements will eventually add up to make a huge impact on your career.