When did you first decide you wanted to cook?
Chef Jet Tila: My grandparents had restaurants in China and Thailand, so when my parents started their own Thai restaurant, I was just third generation along for the ride! I didn’t know there was anything else in the world to do. I started washing dishes in the restaurant when I was about 10, and was a prep cook after school in my teens.
What’s the latest fun thing you’re working on for Food Network?
I’m the Floor Reporter for Iron Chef America and I’m so stoked. Basically, I’m moving … moving very calmly, I might add … around the floor, asking quick questions of the contestants as they’re frantically trying to cook. I’ve got to think fast on my feet because these people are cooking anything and everything. Alton Brown is co-hosting with me, and I’ll run the first 20-minute tasting event. It’s a challenge!
I’m still judging on other shows, too – Guy’s Grocery Game, Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay …all really completely different shows, so I’m learning something new every single day … I can’t even believe the kind of food I see – it’s amazing. I love it.
This is your third year returning to OC Chef’s Table. Why the return?
I’ve been involved in a number of charity events and dinners, but OC Chef’s Table has really had an impact on me. You feel everyone wants to be there because they truly care, and they’re coming together with this heightened sense of community to be involved in something that is such a crucial issue for our fellow human beings.
The interactivity and the connection with the guests while you’re cooking is fantastic, too – I had such an enjoyable time with them.
It’s just a great collection of amazing chefs who are able to do something good – and hang out with great people – for a great cause. I’m really pleased Illumination Foundation asked me to be involved again. It’s difficult to explain how it feels to be a part of it – there’s really nothing like this group.
Any secret menu ideas you’re cooking up for the next OC Chef’s Table?
Well, my latest book – 101 Recipes Every Cook Needs to Know – came out last summer, so I’m planning to pull that evening’s menu from the book with recipes that are seasonal for that time of year.
The best part, though, is that my wife, Ali, is coming along again this year. She’s a pastry chef, so she’s (obviously) going to be in charge of all the truly memorable food!
Food photos credit:
Reprinted with permission from 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die by Jet Tila, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. Photo credit: Ken Goodman.
The top chefs in Orange County (along with a few surprise visiting chefs) are getting together again for the renowned OC Chef’s Table at Disneyland® Resort on March 1, 2020 to provide permanent housing and services for homeless adults and children. With OC’s most imaginative chefs creating one-of-a-kind magical menus, it’s no wonder OC Chef’s Table is one of the most coveted gala tickets of the year.
See all 40+ chefs participating and secure your ticket at OCChefsTable.com. And, get to know this year’s phenomenal chefs as Diane Armitage sits down with each, asking 5 questions in just 5 minutes …