Meet The Chef Tawan Kanjanakajohnsak, The Dish

Head Chef at The Dish, Tawan Kanjanakajohnsak, shared that his passion for the industry started from his motivation to create flavours customers had never been exposed to before. He likens the experience and imagination he applies to his cuisine to the musical world. 

"In the musical world, people come to listen and expect an excellent performance. It's the same in the restaurant," revealed Kanjanakajohnsak. 

Kanjanakajohnsak elaborated that people come to restaurants to enjoy food, expecting good flavour and neat presentation. The chef's likening to the musical world could be attributed to his time as a percussionist. His entry into the world of food began when he had the opportunity to participate in the Percussion Duo competition in Luxembourg. 

Kanjanakajohnsak's interest in Western cuisine, culture, and food was piqued at the competition. This experience changed the chef's perception of artistic expression, which he had previously limited to music. 

"There are many kinds of art, and food is one of those." 

When the chef returned to Thailand, he studied a Western-Thai culinary course at Dusit Thani College, after which he completed a Diploma of Professional Cookery in New Zealand. 

Kanjanakajohnsak has spent many reputable Asian Fusion restaurants in Christchurch and has now had the opportunity to establish his restaurant, the cuisine of which Kanjanakajohnsak described as modern Asian Fusion. Kanjanakajohnsak's interest in this cooking area derived from his favourite cookbooks and the famous chefs he had witnessed in culinary art competitions. 

The chef shared that various imported and local ingredients need to be in more supply, affecting food quality, a problem the food industry will continue to experience. Kanjanakajohnsak stated that alternative ingredients must be sought, with some eliminated, to maintain food quality. However, Kanjanakajohnsak also shared that high costs within the industry will pose problems, with employees likely to be the first cut out to reduce costs. 

When advising anyone entering the industry, Kanjanakajohnsak emphasised that service and honesty to customers were first and foremost. Secondly was knowledge of food allergens; lastly, one's ability to work under high pressure. 

"If you have all those keys, you will succeed and grow fast." 

 For the future, Kanjanakajohnsak hopes to elevate The Dish to a higher quality, creating an impact and difference through the presentation.