Jun Tanaka (chef)

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Jun Tanaka
Jun Tanaka

(1971-11-18) 18 November 1971 (age 48)
New York City, U.S.

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 was the third Grand Champion of the American competitive cooking show, Chopped.

Early life and education[edit]

On 18 November 1971, Jun Tanaka was born in New York City, US, 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.

Armed with a list of restaurants from his father, Tanaka approached each to gain a position as an apprentice. At the top of the list were Le Gavroche, Chez Nico and Marco Pierre White’s restaurant Harvey's.[5]


In 1990, 19-year-old Tanaka's first apprenticeship was at Le Gavroche under the Roux Brothers,[6] 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.[5]

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.[7]

In addition to his job as Pearl executive chef, Tanaka partnered with Notting Hill Brassierie's head chef Mark Jankel in 2009 to set up a venture 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. Named 'The Ninth', it opened in November 2015 in Charlotte Street.[8] It was awarded a Michelin star in the Michelin Guide 2017.[9]

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.[5]

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 would 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. ^ The Staff Canteen. "Jun Tanaka Pearl Restaurant & Bar London" The Staff Canteen.
  5. ^ a b c BBC: Chef biogs
  6. ^ Talking to Jun Tanaka, HotDinners.com, retrieved 12 December 2012
  7. ^ "Pearl Bar & Restaurant", Time Out, archived from the original on 12 December 2012, retrieved 12 December 2012
  8. ^ The Ninth
  9. ^ "Michelin Guide 2017: The Ritz and London's oldest Indian restaurant win coveted star", The Daily Telegraph, retrieved 22 January 2017

External links[edit]