INTERVIEW: DAVID PANG, THE EXECUTIVE CHEF THAT LED TÀN CHÁ RESTAURANT TO THE MICHELIN GUIDE DUBAI 2022 SELECTION
The culinary expert behind TÀN CHÁ Dubai's meticulous menu...
Chef David Pang joins TÀN CHÁ from his previous role at the two Michelin star restaurants in London and has worked and trained throughout Asia and the Middle East. After reviewing TÀN CHÁ Dubai's delectable Chinese cuisine, it is only right we at DubaiNight spoke to the expert himself, Executive Chef David Pang. This is what he had to say...
DubaiNight: When did you decide to become a chef?
Chef: I never liked school, to be honest. At the age of 12, I hung up my school bag and began helping my mother and uncle at the food street stall they operated in Malaysia. It was then I discovered my passion for the culinary arts.
After helping my mother and uncle for about 9 years, I decided to explore my skills further. I left for Prince Hotel and Residence (Malaysia) to work in a Hong Kong Cuisine restaurant. We often hear stories about kitchen apprentices being reprimanded by their seniors and chefs. However, I suppose I am lucky I had a wonderful master chef who not only taught me well but treated me as a family member. He was patient and always willing to share his knowledge. That inspired me to learn even harder to be a good chef.
That was more than twenty years ago but I will always be grateful to my master for all the things he taught me. Throughout my career, I have cooked for many people from all walks of life including many famous people (Hong Kong) Artis Jacky Chan, (Saudi Arab King) Mohammed bin Salman, Mukhriz Mahathir, son of the prime minister of Malaysia countries around the world. It has been a wonderful experience and still is for me.
DubaiNight: What is your signature dish? What do people love about it?
Chef: Honey nut crispy beef. for their tenderness, flavour and mouth-watering texture tossed in honey dressing and Huang Fei Hong Peanuts.
DubaiNight: How do you describe your overall cooking philosophy?
Chef: My cooking philosophy is to be as creative as I can. I like trying new techniques, cooking new dishes and experimenting with new ingredients. I take a recipe and try to create a little bit of magic.
DubaiNight: What does TÀN CHÁ mean to you? What inspired you?
Chef: TÀN CHÁ means Discovery, Back in time, Appearance, Excitement and Youth.
DubaiNight: 5 best dishes to try at TÀN CHÁ?
- TÀN CHÁ Peking Duck
- Scalded King Fish
- Honey Nut Crispy Beef
- TÀN CHÁ Dim Sum Basket
- Song Lu Cheong Fun
DubaiNight: Go-to cocktail at TÀN CHÁ?
Chef: Meeting the Golden Ox, a really well-balanced and cleverly concocted with Mezcal, Tequila and clarified grapefruit juice finished with a homemade siracha salt.. delicious.
DubaiNight: How would you describe your cooking style in 3 words?
- Cook from Heart
- Make it Happened
DubaiNight: What ingredient/dish do you consider indispensable?
Chef: Ginger, Garlic and Onion
What is one dish you have never cooked before and want to try?
Chef: Japanese Cuisine – Sushi
DubaiNight: How did you manage to get into Michelin Guide? What is the next step for you?
Chef: I always ask this of my brigade, “Why do you want to be a chef?” The happiness of cooking a beautiful, tasty dish, not for the fame, not for having a thousand Likes, but through the process of being a true professional, makes us a better person; now I’m so proud to see that each one of Restaurant TAN CHA’s team being Honest- Passionate- Creative- Flexible- and Positive individuals.
Being a chef is not only about skills and techniques. But also tapping on these original philosophies to turn every single ingredient that enters our hands into edible works of art. And the possibilities are endless.”
I will draw on these techniques – and the freshest seasonal ingredients as I mentioned before – to bring a dish to its most complete and most perfect expression. Besides being complete, innovation is also key. We strive for this in the kitchen every day: "Over the years, passion for cooking has only grown.
My next step will be that all that’s left to do is keep working. With a solid foundation and lots of perseverance, you’re well situated to lead your restaurant to that coveted Michelin Star.
DubaiNight: What is your process like in developing a menu? Where are you looking for inspiration?
Chef: The core of any creative process is first and foremost inspiration. If you aren’t a creative person by default there is nothing to worry about as this step in finding new menu ideas is probably the easiest. It is just a matter of surrounding yourself with examples and ideas related to what you are trying to recreate, and with enough time you will be inspired.
This method of generating inspiration is not as easy as the previous three but may yield more impactful results. Head to other restaurants in the area and check out their menus, see what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. This method is priceless as it allows you to get an idea of what may work for your restaurant without having to bear the cost of trying it out and potentially failing.
This last tip ties in with the previous ones. Make sure that during the inspiration phase of coming up with new restaurant menu ideas you are carrying a small notebook with you at all times. You’ll never know when a brilliant idea will come to mind, and you’re going to want to write it down somewhere. Any modern phone with a notes app will also be a perfect substitution.
DubaiNight: Is there something in the food world you are looking to explore or learn about?
Chef: Vegan Food
- A celebrity you would cook for?
Robert Kuok Hock Nien (Malaysian business magnate)
- What is your midnight snack?
- What is your favourite drink?
- What is your coffee order?
- What does your staple diet look like?
Can you give us 3 pieces of advice for those that cannot cook?
Start with a positive attitude and set your goal
Take time to understand cooking terms and learn basic techniques
What is your favourite social media app?
- What is your go-to guilty pleasure?
Sleeping in late on the day off
- What do you do on a day off?
Do what I love and make me happy on my day off.. whatever I want!
- What is the one thing about you that surprises people?
I don’t drink alcohol, But my face looks like a drunkard
- What is the ideal date night meal?
Close to Beach Restaurant, they will be a romantic and Amazing Feel with Seafood Cuisine or BBQ
Check out TÀN CHÁ Dubai