Jun Tanaka (chef)

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This article is about a British chef. For poet, see Jun Tanaka (poet). For footballer, see Jun Tanaka (footballer).
Jun Tanaka (chef)
Born Jun Tanaka
(1971-11-18) November 18, 1971 (age 43)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality British-American
Occupation Chef

Jun Tanaka (born 18 November 1971[1]) is an American-born Japanese British UK TV chef, best known for presenting Channel 4's Cooking It as well as appearing in Saturday Kitchen on BBC One. He also holds the distinction of being the third Grand Champion of American competitive cooking show Chopped.

Early Life and Education[edit]

On 18 November in 1971, Jun Tanaka was born in New York City, U.S.A., to a chemical engineer[1] and a housewife.[2] When he was seven in 1978, his family moved from New York City to England.[3] In 1989, his parents returned to Japan while Tanaka and his older brother, an orthopaedic surgeon,[4] continued living in England.

Until then, the Tanaka brothers attended[5] Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire, but Tanaka did not have a distinguished academic career[4] and his A levels experience suggested the University route wouldn't be a successful option. He asked his Business Studies teacher whether setting up a restaurant would be a good idea, but he didn't receive a particularly encouraging response.

While considering career options at 19, Tanaka asked his father, a regular restaurant diner, to list London restaurants he rated the most. Top of the list were Le Gavroche, Chez Nico and Marco Pierre White’s restaurant Harvey's.[6] Armed with his father's list, Tanaka approached each on the list to gain a position as an apprentice.


In 1990, 19-year-old Tanaka's first apprenticeship was at Le Gavroche under the Roux brothers.,[7] and went on to work and train at Chez Nico and The Capital as Chef de Partie under Philip Britten. He then worked at Les Saveurs as Chef de Partie under Joel Antunes for two years. He then worked at The Restaurant Marco Pierre White and The Oak Room as a Sous Chef under Marco Pierre White, before moving to The Square as Junior Sous Chef under Philip Howard and onto Chavot under Eric Chavot as Sous Chef.[6]

In 2004, Tanaka became the Executive Head Chef of the Renaissance London Chancery Court Hotel's Pearl Restaurant and Bar, a fine-dining establishment that specialises in French cuisine.[8]

In addition to his job as Pearl executive chef, Tanaka partnered with Nottinghill Brassierie's head chef Mark Jankel in 2009 to set up a venture of using a street catering van, Street Kitchen, to produce and sell gourmet lunches, using 100% British produce, at various London locations.

At the end of 2012, Jun left Pearl to open his own restaurant in central London.

Television and Books[edit]

Tanaka hosted the Channel 4 programme Cooking It in 2006, and has made appearances in BBC One's Saturday Kitchen, UKTV's Great Food Live, ITV's Saturday Cooks, and BBC Two's Food Poker as a resident chef in 2007.[6]

He is currently a regular fixture on UKTV's Market Kitchen, and has made a regular appearance on ITV's Daily Cooks Challenge and BBC's MasterChef: the Professionals.

In 2009, Simon & Schuster published Tanaka's book "Simple to Sensational", which offers recipes and guidance for beginners in fine-dining cookery.

In 2013, Tanaka won the Grand Finale of Chopped Champions, which pitted 16 previous Chopped Champions against each other for $50,000. He stated that his prize money will be invested in his new restaurant.


  1. ^ a b Cowen, Ruth. "The Contender" The Guardian. Friday 23 November 2001.
  2. ^ Ghayour, Sabrina. "Diving for Pearls - Chef Jun Tanaka" Foodepedia. Monday 12 October 2009.
  3. ^ "An Interview With: Jun Tanaka" For the Love of Life: Food & Culture Magazine. 6 January 2010.
  4. ^ a b The Staff Canteen. "Jun Tanaka Pearl Restaurant & Bar London" The Staff Canteen.
  5. ^ "Distinguished Old Wycliffians - Living"
  6. ^ a b c BBC: Chef biogs
  7. ^ Talking to Jun Tanaka, HotDinners.com, retrieved 12 December 2012 
  8. ^ Pearl Bar & Restaurant, Time Out, retrieved 12 December 2012 

External links[edit]