Chef Jet Tila
Question 1: Where did you get your start?
“I come from a restaurant family, so food was always a big influence in my life. My parents owned restaurants in Thailand and opened a few more in Southern California when we moved here in the 70’s.
You could say I grew up in the business and that’s how I got my start.”
Question 2: What is your favorite dish?
“Gosh that’s a hard one! I like to cook just about everything but I’m most known for asian food. Being Chinese – but born in Thailand – I think you can taste the influences of both cultures in my food.
Right now I’m obsessed with making Thai Curry from scratch – galangal, shallots & garlic mashed into a paste. So good!”
Question 3: What was your favorite dish as a child?
“My grandma’s Chinese, 5-spice, braised pork belly with hardboiled eggs served with white jasmine rice and pickled mustard greens! It’s so good, I still make it today.
I recently started making a variation of it by stuffing the braised pork belly and pickles inside a fried Chinese bao bun.”
Question 4: Who inspired you to be a chef?
“My grandma (my mom’s mom) is really the one who opened up my deep love for food and how to cook.
I didn’t want to be a chef until my mid-20’s. I think all young adults can relate with not wanting to go into the family business but I guess it caught up to me!”
Question 5: What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
“I’d be a police officer or something related to law enforcement! I love the adrenaline rush. Before my mid-20’s, I hated cooking and wanted to join the military, but that’s obviously changed.”
Question 6: What advice can you give an aspiring chef?
“Shut up and listen, work extremely hard everyday, don’t think you know everything & absorb as much as you can!
When I opened Encore in Las Vegas, I worked 16 hour days for 4 months – nonstop, no breaks. Every chef I know has worked at least a couple 24 hour days without a blink. As chefs, we don’t count our work by days, we count them by weeks.
My second piece of advice is you have to work for great people to be great. It’s not possible to reach your highest potential without that direct influence in your life.”
Question 7: Is there anything you would have done differently in your career?
“I would’ve worked for 1-2 more accomplished chefs before going off on my own. When I was younger, I had the opportunity to work for a prestigious chef, but wasn’t able to make it work. I’d redo that if I had the chance.
I also would have loved to work for Thomas Keller!”
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