Savoring Success: Chef Daniel Garwood, World Travels and Winning SPYCA's U.S. Regional Award

Sous Chef at New York's Atomix
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A Conversation with World-renowned Chef Daniel Garwood

In the latest episode of "Chef AF", we welcomed Chef Daniel Garwood, a culinary force to be reckoned with. Currently, the Sous Chef at Atomix in New York City – the restaurant that recently made waves by ranking No. 8 in the 2023 World's 50 Best Restaurants list – Garwood is more than just a chef; he's a global storyteller.

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From Tasmania to the World Stage

Born in Launceston, Tasmania, Chef Garwood started his culinary journey in local Tasmanian restaurants, where his passion for foraging, grilling, and using all-natural ingredients blossomed. His global expeditions led him to hone his skills in world-renowned kitchens from Sweden to South Korea, and all the way to the heart of New York City.

It is at Atomix that Chef Garwood combines his rich tapestry of international experiences with the unique essence of New York – a city known for its diverse culinary landscape. While the foundation is Korean-inspired, the execution is globally nuanced, resulting in a menu that is distinctly "Korean but not."

As we chatted about Atomix, it became clear that New York City is more than just a workplace for Daniel. The city's melange of cultures has shaped his approach at Atomix. However, Daniel humbly credits the restaurant's unique identity mostly to Chef Junghyun 'JP' Park, considering himself in a supportive role.

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Mentorship and The Power of Networking

We delved deep into the pivotal role mentorship plays in shaping culinary careers. Daniel's recent U.S. Regional Winner title at The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition is a testament to this. His relationship with mentor Chef Nina Compton, from Compère Lapin in New Orleans, has been transformative. With her guidance, Chef Garwood has navigated the challenges of the competition, simultaneously staying authentic to his culinary ethos.

But mentorship wasn’t the only gain from the SPYCA competition. Daniel's victory opened doors to elite culinary platforms such as the James Beard Foundation, introducing him to chefs and initiatives championing community welfare and employee well-being.

Photo credit: Evan Sung

Signature Dishes and Culinary Identity

Daniel's Aged Duck and Persimmon in Tak Cheongju with Banchan Through The Eyes of a Traveler dish stands out not just for its flavor but the narrative it tells. Each element, from the choice of wood for grilling to the unique preparation techniques, traces back to a place or moment in Chef Garwood's life.

For instance, during his stint at Firedoor in Sydney, Chef Garwood was introduced to grilling with various woods, each infusing the dish with a distinctive flavor profile. In the competition, his signature dish embodies this ethos, incorporating techniques inspired by countries he's graced with his culinary touch.

Mental Health in the Culinary Limelight

The conversation took a poignant turn when they touched upon mental health – an issue close to Chef Garwood's heart. In collaboration with his wife, Sooky An, Daniel released "Oralis: A Conversation on Food and Mental Health," bringing awareness to the mental challenges faced by culinary professionals. By hosting dinner events, creating dialogue, and promoting practices like journaling and fitness, Chef Garwood is championing a change in the industry's perspective towards mental well-being.

Aspirations and What Lies Ahead

New York City may be home for now, but Chef Garwood has plans. He dreams of opening a large-scale bar restaurant, focusing on grilling with varied woods – an experience he feels NYC is missing.

For those eager to experience Chef Garwood's culinary magic, you can find him at Atomix. However, snagging a reservation, especially at the 14-seat chef's counter, is no small feat given the high demand.

Photo credit: Evan Sung

The conversation with Chef Daniel left us inspired and waiting with bated breath for the Grand Finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition in October. Chef Daniel Garwood, with his signature dish and global experiences, is undoubtedly one to watch.

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Lisa Pepe