Kitchen Residency at Dareshack launches with ‘Gastronomy by Jon’

Dareshack Journal – Kitchen Residency launches with ‘Gastronomy by Jon’ - Jon Cholakian

We are preparing to welcome Jon and his team to take over the kitchen for the next months!

Jon has been working for years as a private chef, cooking for celebrities (recently for Russell Howard) and running events and pop-ups in the South West. His passion for food is an honest, self-developed story. Always fascinated by different ingredients, flavours, and cuisines when growing up. Jon has travelled quite a lot, particularly in South East Asia, where he lived for three years, opening his eyes to a whole new range of dishes and delicacies. ‘There’s something to love about every cuisine around the world’ . He is known for the geometry, asymmetry, and overall orbital vibe about his style of presenting the dishes; this, together with his enthusiasm for all things astronomic, led him to the name G|astronomy.

When I look up at a starry night sky, I’m mesmerised by the sheer beauty and the sense of vastness. Like there are no limits.

Jon Cholakian

Why did you become a chef? And how was your journey?
I have always loved to cook. It’s been my passion, my hobby and my greatest interest for as long as I can remember. Food makes me happy! I have never trained. I’ve simply self-explored and watched a lot of other amazing chefs on TV and online. I practised and I tweaked. My confidence and my knowledge grew and grew. One day, I just decided to go for it. Life is short. If you love something, do it! The journey so far has been all-encompassing and just fantastic. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made!

Who has been your biggest influence to get you to where you are today?
My daughter. She inspires me and drives me every day. She makes me feel that no matter what I do or don’t do, she will always be proud that I’m her daddy. It empowers me and makes me want to achieve more and more, unencumbered.

Thinking about sustainability, how does your food change with the context we live in?
I think we are all more aware of the environment these days, so wherever we can, we look to use sustainable ingredients and stick to seasonal produce as much as possible. It’s not always easy, but there’s nothing easy about being a successful chef anyway.

Can you share a bit about your experience in South East Asia and how did that impact your relationship with food?
I moved to Hong Kong in 2010 for work, which, at the time, had nothing to do with cooking. But the ingredients I came across and the food culture I discovered there was so captivating. During my three years, I visited Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. I even cycled the length of Cambodia, top to bottom. When you visit these places, with such basic amenities and see people producing the simplest of dishes using the most every day ingredients, it’s totally inspiring. We stayed with a family who lived in a wooden hut on stilts, to avoid flooding. They had no electricity, they barely had any clothes. Yet we sat with them on the floor and ate their food. It doesn’t get any more grass roots than that, and it was delicious! I learnt so much about flavour combinations and flavour balance. Asian dishes are typically bold. There is nothing subtle about Asian food, it packs a punch! This has translated into my cooking ever since. Food should sing! When it hits your palate, your taste buds should dance and ultimately, it should make you smile. Food is sharing, food is experiencing, food is happiness!

What ingredient can’t be left off your dishes?
Salt. The most essential ingredient in any good kitchen. Also the most misunderstood.

Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?
It has to be Spring! Everything feels so fresh and new. Every year, the excitement is real!

Can you share something exciting that you’re planning for your residency at Dareshack?
At some point, we may or may not be seeing some ex-MasterChef contestants alongside me in the kitchen. 😉

What is your favourite coffee or tea?
I’m a flat white kinda guy!

If you had no constraints at all, what would be the most daring thing you would do in your practice?
I’d like to serve something outrageous one day. Something people have never even heard of, something which really splits the crowd. Life is all about pushing the boundaries!

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