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Keeping It Simple: A Talk with Martin Yan by Kris Man


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Star Chef: Dan M. Ivarie
Jesters, The Peninsula, Bangkok

     Dan started his career in the Rocky Mountain resort area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Working with the area's finest chefs, he developed a passion for studying culminary arts.

     Attending Johnson & Wales University was a high point for the young culminary artist and he excelled, achieving Summa Cum Laude status upon graduation. This was a very exciting time, as with so much information to digest, he worked non-stop for the whole program just to make it through the vast culminary library, in addition to working these three jobs while not in class.

     His first position after graduation was with Hyatt Hotels in Washington D.C. Working his way through the various stations, the passion to create a variety of cuisines really intrigued this young chef enough to accept a position at the Remington Hotel in Houston, Texas. At the Remington he worked as the Chef Garde Manger and was exposed to a wide range of gourmet quality products, together with a very demanding clientele.

     Dan's fondest memories were of the caviar room, where a vast assortment of the world's finest caviars were his responsibility to care for and serve creatively. Thus another passion was developed and cultivated. This is also where he discoverd the true Tex Mex flavors of smoked meats, local cheeses and fresh vegetables direct from the farm. Southwestern cuisine and flavors are a guiding force in Dan's style and flavor profiles, in addition to the many contrasting and accenting styles he has discovered since then.

     Arriving on the Hawaiian shores in 1989 was a cornerstone in the chef's style development, with so many new and different ingredients to work with, combined with the ethnic diversity of the islands.

     The first position was at the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa where he acquired a taste for many bold flavors and cuisines. While working side by side with the hotel's excellent Japanese chefs, he acquired a sense of passion for the highly acclaimed culinary art of sushi, sashimi and other types of Japanese cooking. It was a treasure trove of culminary discoveries and a fun experience for a chef passionate about food.

     Working with the Italian chef was another major culinary find. He was so creative with the island's many ingredients that the food exploded with incredible flavor combinations. This really sparked an interest in fusion Italian/Island cooking to the extent that Dan accepted the Executive Chef position in a local restaurant group called Caf?Pesto. At Caf?Pesto he really developed a special affection for the island and its many small growers of high quality products. The cuisine took on a very Pacific Rim/Italian flavor profile that island residents remember to this day.

     In 1994 Dan accepted a position with a new restaurant concept at the Mandarin Oriental Jakarta. The idea was to create a modern Italian style cuisine that would wow the Jakarta restaurant scene. Zigolini opened its doors in September of that same year and has been full ever since.

     The Ritz Carlton Singapore was Dan's next position, where he accepted the responsibility for the Greenhouse Restaurant. Working with the local Singaporean chefs, he discovered another hugh volume of cooking skills, ideas and flavors. Singaporeans come from all over South East Asia and combine to create a truly unique culminary style, incorporating Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Chinese, Nonya and Western recipes.

     The demand for high quality Western-style fusion cuisine eventually led him back to Jarkarta, and in 1996 he accepted the position of Executive Chef of Fashion Caf?Jakarta. Here he was encouraged to revamp the Western classics to meet the Indonesian palate. What developed was a profound passion for a wide variety of Indonesian ingredients and flavors - to be exposed to a richly traditional cuisine and then develop a modern Western menu out of it.

     Following the economic downturn in 1997, Dan returned to Hawaii to ride out the storm. He arrived on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to work as Executive Sous Chef of the prestigious Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. Here he reaffirmed his love for Pacific Rim cuisine, Hawaiian style. Armed with much knowledge of Asian cooking, he excelled with many new recipes using the local ingredients and tends.

     When asked what is the single most important and/or exciting ingredient he has ever discovered, the answer is always the same, "Passion for food" - it's what drives the profession forward and influences the taste of every dish.

     To lucky diners in Bangkok, Dan is now Jesters' Chef since October 1999, where he continues his outstanding and innovative Pacific Rim style of cuisine.

Grilled King Prawns with Pink Peppercorn Coconut Sauce
Crispy Duck Pancake with Tatsoi and Mustard Vinaigrette
Avocado Roll with Smoked Trout and Tobiko Caviar
Coriander Rack of Lamb with Mediterranian Lentils





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