Chen Jibin is one of the head chefs at FuKu, the newly-opened modern Asian fusion restaurant on Crown Street, Wollongong.
Tell us about your background as a chef.
I started working as a teppanyaki chef in Fujiyama during the mid '90s. In 2006 I travelled to different parts of China to learn how to cook the traditional and authentic Chinese way. Being a chef means you never stop learning.
What is your favourite thing about working in the kitchen?
Creating new dishes based on experiences that I've had and dishes that I have tried on my travels.
Do you prefer a Gordon Ramsay style of management, or something a little less intense?
Definitely less intense, there needs to be a balance in the kitchen. I believe if you create a happy workplace and keep everyone happy then your staff in return will be good to you.
I respect my staff and they respect me . . . but occasionally you still need to show your staff who is boss if they start slacking off a bit!
If you were a food, what would you be and why?
Beijing duck - it's delicious!
How similar are Japanese and Chinese cuisines? Is fusing them a challenge?
By mixing two different cuisines and cultures you create the most interesting dishes.
It is a challenge as some dishes may not work well with each other as Chinese uses spices that are different from Japanese.
What is a dish you have always wanted to attempt but are too afraid to and why?
Lasagne - it is a dish from a cuisine absolutely foreign to me, and plus I would love to try it but I can't eat cheese.
What is the weirdest ingredient you have ever used and why?
Pig's head. In China it is normal but I guess it would be a strange ingredient for other people.
It could be served both hot or cold, spicy or not spicy, or just dipped in hoisin and five spices.
How do you relax after a day in the kitchen?
Having a couple of drinks after the restaurant closes is the best way to wind down after a busy day in the kitchen.
Who are your cooking heroes?
I am inspired by all dishes that have ever been prepared for me, so you could say all chefs who have cooked for me are my cooking heroes! The chefs on the Japanese show Iron Chef interest me quite a bit as well.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Late-night kebabs. Perfect after a night of drinking.
If you could travel to any place in the world just to eat a certain dish, where and what would it be?
India, to try all the spices and cuisines. I would like to travel there to expand my knowledge.