An ambassador of Asian cuisine in the U.S., Jet Tila has made a name for himself with the help of any number of Food Network projects. Not only is he a Tournament of Champions competitor (and the only number one seed left in the Season 4 competition as of publication), but he has also hosted The Halloween Cookie Challenge and been a winner on Guy’s Grocery Games.
He is also a social media culinarian, helping his followers learn more about food and find inspiration in the kitchen. Tila brings a touch of fun to everything he does, while also being the kind of chef we aspire to be.
And recently Jet Tila partnered with Dawn Professional to help bring attention to their latest innovation, the newest Dawn Professional Heavy Duty product – Manual Pot and Pan Detergent. Not only did we get to chat with Chef Tila about this partnership and what makes this product so special, but we also chatted about his work and his thoughts on food.
Chef Jet Tila partnered with Dawn to help bring attention to their latest professional innovation: Dawn Professional Heavy Duty Manual Pot and Pan
First up we wanted to know about his partnership with Dawn and what it was that inspired him to work with the brand to shine a spotlight on their latest product release. And it was very interesting to learn more about the chef and how he started his kitchen career.
"I don’t think many people know, so my first job growing up was working as a dishwasher. And not just in my family’s seven restaurants. But I think that’s the chain of command in my generation of chefs. You kind of work your way up. It’s probably the toughest job in the kitchen. It’s probably the least seen job. But you know, dishwashers are the backbone of every kitchen. I mean, they really can effect just about every part of the business. So when this opportunity came up, and I actually got to test the Dawn Professional Heavy Duty Manual Pot and Pan it was pretty amazing. I just don’t think people quite understand and they take for granted when you make the life of your dishwashers much easier, it really effects every kind of cog in the machine of restaurants."
Beyond the way Chef Tila started in the kitchen and his work with Dawn Professional, we wanted to know a bit more about his own inspiration. This led to talking about what inspires him and what he hopes diners get out of going to his restaurants or trying his food.
"I’m almost 50 and I’ve been cooking since I was a teenager in my family’s restaurants. That evolves over time, but I think the through line is going to be creating experiences. Right? I think that for me anyway, Kimberley, if you come in to eat at either my restaurants or like Pei Wei or any of our businesses, that flow from the palate to the brain, that’s a deep connection. It’s a deep cut. So if the food’s good, and the experience is positive, you’re going to remember that and then that’s going to create that umami effect. And umami isn’t just flavor it’s a feeling. So you know, like you guys rooting for me in a tournament or something I’ve done along the way has created an experience for you guys. There’s some connector where you feel you know me which is hopefully authentic for me anyway. Then of course, the big cog in the chain is going to be everything’s going smooth in the back of house. It actually ties back through, but for me, it’s creating experiences."
Of course, with Chef Jet Tila being known for his Asian cuisine, it just makes sense that we would want to talk to him about adding more international foods and flavors to our at home cooking experiences. As we pointed out to him, it really does feel like international foods are having a moment and more people are looking to expand their culinary repertoire.
"No, you nailed it. Look, I think we have the millennials and Gen Z and now the next generation and you know international foods aren’t what we used to call ethnic anymore. Really it’s becoming part of everyday life. I think every kid under 18/16 wants to eat ramen and sushi. So my advice really is just to take something you really love to eat because then that creates passion. Like let’s say it’s pho or let’s say it’s ramen, and then pick up like one to three ingredients at a time. Because cooking is the same across the board, making chicken noodle soup is really not that different than making pho. What’s the missing piece? It’s going to be ingredients in between. Understanding what are the five spices? Pick up 1 to 3 ingredients and practice the dish until you nail it. And I think another reason why I’ve been successful in connecting with people is finding good recipes and good teachers. And that’s really what it comes down to."
Of course, we can’t end a Guilty Eats chat or interview without finding out what a person’s favorite guilty eat is. So what is Jet Tila’s guilty eat?
"Oh man so good. I’m going back to what makes the biggest mess and my biggest guilty eat is…it lives between doughnuts and pizza. That’s my biggest guilty eat and I know it’s a cliche, but that’s absolute truth. I love Detroit style pizza."