Chef April Jun Shen Mode Kitchen and Bar Sydney

Jun Shen – Chef de Cuisine, Mode Kitchen and Bar

Chef Jun Shen

In this interview, Jun Shen, Chef de Cuisine at Mode Kitchen and Bar in Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, shares her growth in the industry and reveals some new things on the horizon.

What do you do? 

I am the chef de cuisine of Mode Kitchen and Bar. I was one of the opening team in 2017 as sous with Australian iconic Chef Mark Best. It was previously Pei Modern before its renovation and rebranding. 

How did you get into the industry? 

After I graduated with a Bachelor of Finance, I realized I loved cooking more than those dull numbers. So, I went into the kitchen of the best French restaurant back then in 2000, which was Bistro Moncur and asked the sous chef for a job. She looked into my eyes and asked me you sure you want to be a chef? I said yes. She said to come tomorrow morning. That’s it! It was a hard place to work with their two hats reputation, but I learned so much during those years.

Share with us a story from behind the scenes. 

One of the fun parts of being in hospitality is that every day, you will expect some stories, from the supplier telling you whatever you need is out of stock very early in the morning when you are still sleeping to the waiters taking the food to wrong tables, or your staff could walk out during the service etc. It’s endless small or big dramas. For me, it was one of the random days in Mode Kitchen and Bar, and we got hit with hundreds of walk-ins; the kitchen was trying very hard to keep up with the food, but the floor was even worse. They struggled to run the food, clean, and turn over the tables. Suddenly I saw Kartik, at the time the Director of Food & Beverage, now he is our Hotel Manager, and our former General Manager, were cleaning the tables on the floor. I felt inspired as a leader, without teamwork we couldn’t do anything, in and out of the kitchen. 

What food memory from your childhood or travels stands out? 

My best food in memory is spit roast suckling pig in southern China, where I grew up. 

What’s the best/ worst part of your job? 

Being a chef, I think the best part of the job is that we can be creative. The worst part could be sleep deprivation. We don’t sleep much.

What’s one of your favourite food and beverage pairings? 

Lots of food and beverage pairings stand out, such as Riesling and fish crudo, Shiraz with venison, etc. But what I like the most is sake with yakitori. 

What’s one of the most memorable things you’ve seen behind the scenes? 

I worked for Movida Sydney for almost four years. The night the restaurant closed forever, we had a regular customer, a single diner who had been with us from the beginning. He had his usual dishes and stayed with us till the last minute. When he walked out of the restaurant, it was a moment I couldn’t forget.

Chef Jun Shen’s perfect day off … 

starts with espresso and a 5km run. Music, painting, yoga exercises, walking in the national park, or reading cookbooks are my fun times.

What do you want guests to know about Four Seasons and Mode Kitchen & Bar? How have you grown in your profession?

Four Seasons is a brand focused wholly on the guest experience, every interaction from the team is infused with LOVE, and guests at Mode Kitchen and Bar can expect to feel that warm, and welcoming energy when they dine with us.

What are your key learnings from your start in the industry until now? Any misconceptions? 

The key learning point for me is that after 20 years of cooking, I am still learning. You will always have something that you want to try to make and do the research on how to make the best of that dish or how to make your version of the dish. 

What do you want people to know about being a Chef as a profession? 

People think we cook a lot at home, too, but we don’t. But we love to cook for friends and family though in our spare time.

What is Chef Jun Shen’s view on the food scene in Sydney?

As chefs, we are very lucky to be working in Sydney. It’s a place with wonderful local produce and multicultural scenes. Food is so diversified here, and modern Australian cuisine is full of freedom to create! It can’t be narrowly defined and restricted due to its history and influence from immigration. 

What practices do you currently implement or hope to implement to work towards social responsibility and sustainability in the future? 

Sustainability is a key pillar of Four Seasons as a brand, and we implement strict policies surrounding food wastage. However, in my wilder dreams, I would love to put all the kitchen waste into meals for homeless people for a completely zero-waste operation. One day, I hope I can do that.

What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months? 

There will be many exciting changes in 2024 with some things diners of Mode Kitchen and Bar have never seen before. We will be kicking off our partner Wine Dinner Series for the year. Throughout February, we have some amazing menus, desserts and offerings surrounding Valentine’s Day for an entire Month Of Love.

Read more interviews like this with Chef Jun Shen here, and stay updated with the latest gourmet and travel recommendations here and here. 

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