Shiitake Seven: Jowett Yu, head chef of Ms G’s

For our first ever shiitake seven, I spoke to Jowett Yu, head chef at Ms G’s in Potts Point and currently setting up the new Merivale venture, Mr Wong, with his partner-in-crime, Dan Hong.

Jowett Yu. head chef at Ms G’s.

Find out what he thinks about Masterchef, his cooking idols and where he has worked, inside.

In his own words:

“I was born in Taiwan, went to elementary school there and then moved to Vancouver, Canada when I was 10. I then went to University of Victoria and graduated with a BA in history and was planned to go into journalism. However, my passion for cooking was set early on since I was 15 working at burger joints.

Upon graduation, I got right back into cooking and went to cooking school in 2004.  I am classically-trained, French originally, and then moved to Sydney in 2005.  I started to look for a job and at the time I only wanted to work at Tetsuya’s. I wanted a job so bad I agreed to do an unpaid internship for three months before Tetsuya Wakuda decide to sponsor me and I was there for the next three years.

I then went to Marque where I was there for short of a year. Dan Hong, a good friend and colleague whom I worked with at Tetsuya’s got a gig at Lotus as head chef and then I called him see if he was looking for anyone. I took a sous chef job there.

From then I went to open Ms G’s and where I am currently the head chef. I will be moving on though, to a new project in CBD called Mr Wong, I will be the head chef there setting up shop with Dan.”

What would you have as your last meal?
A bowl of steamed short-grain rice.  My grandfather was a rice farmer in Taiwan, I have an engrained belonging for rice.
Do you watch Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules? Would you ever hire someone from the show?
Not really, maybe when there’s a celebrity chef on.  And it depends, I’ve met a few but they aren’t really cut out to do real cooking in real kitchens.
What do you love about cooking?
You start the day with nothing, you prep all the produce through the day, and it builds up to a crescendos into the dinner service around 7-8 and the place is absolutely pumping and you look around everyone is just charged.  By 10 or so things quiet down, the music of the restaurant quiets down, people are stuffed and into the desserts, subsequently the day finishes.  Then you do it all again the next day.  Few jobs go through such different emotions and adrenalin rushes throughout the day.
What don’t you like about the industry?
Passionate chefs are a dying breed.  Long hours, no recognition, and low pay doesn’t attract many people.  I’m constantly looking for chefs and I’m worried who will cook my meals when I get old.
What is the dish you are most proud of creating?
Not sure if I have one.  I don’t think I can claim anything.  There are heaps more talented chefs than me.  Even if I work twice as hard,  I don’t think I’ll ever be like them.  These guys are geniuses (see below).
What’s your favourite restaurant?
Golden Century (in Chinatown).
Who do you look up to, as a chef?
Hard to say a particular one.  But few chefs that invent cuisines – anything they do changes reverberates globally.  Notably Chang, Adria, Blumenthal, Bras, Redzepi, Keller, Aduriz et al.

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