Jansen Chan

“I secretly hate watching people eat my own food.

“It’s very nerve-wracking. More in the restaurant setting; if it’s my family, I don’t care. But to watch strangers eat my food in a restaurant setting would terrify me, because if they didn’t like it, I would take it personally.

“I would actually try to avoid eye contact. I’d be like, “Go ahead, enjoy the plate, I’m going to leave.’ Or if I’m walking through the dining room, I see someone eat dessert, I’m like, ‘Don’t look, don’t look.’ It would just upset me if someone was like, ‘Oh, this is not right.’

“I know that you can’t make everyone happy. And that’s something you have to learn, you build up a thick skin. But at the same time, you work so hard, and you really believe in your product, and people don’t like it and you’re like, ‘Ohhh, that’s fine,’ but inside you’re going, ‘Oh my god, this is killing me.’

“People are paying money to have your food, so in the restaurant, they’re the critics. They’re the ones that really count the most. Those are the ones that you don’t have any control over. That’s my deep dark secret.”

Jansen Chan is the Pastry Arts Director at the International Culinary Center. Prior to that, he was the Pastry Chef at Oceana for six years.


Interview and photo by Laurie Ulster