Leaving behind the in-and-out (and at times brusque) service model of Tim Ho Wan — and with Howes’s hopes to “provide the best restaurant in terms of service in Sydney” — it was important for The Jewel Pantry to bring over the best. Interestingly, the chef, rather than the concept, came first. The group’s decision to start their portfolio with a traditional Cantonese restaurant is mainly due to the chef Chan’s expertise in southern Chinese cuisine, particularly in dim sum.
Chan was a natural fit, having worked with Howe previously as the head chef of Sydney’s Tim Ho Wan outposts. He has 28 years of Cantonese cooking under his belt, including training under Tim Ho Wan’s co-founder and dim sum extraordinaire Chef Mak Kwai Pui ,as well as holding the position of head dim sum chef at The Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.
“I started learning the art of dim sum from my father who was also a chef,” says Chan. “Throughout my career I have been fortunate enough to have learnt from some of the very best chefs in the business…and much of what I have learnt has gone into curating the menu.”
Roast master Ron Ooi will be joining Chan in the kitchen who, like Chan, began learning his craft from his father. Perfecting the art of roast meats in Singapore before moving to Australia, Ooi will be leading the charge of all the roast dishes at Canton! Canton!
Continuing to work with two Tim Ho Wan managers, Nick Yang and Winnie Wu, Howe is adamant that the service at Canton! will be attentive, inspired by restaurants he’s visited in Bangkok.
“This is the type of service you will not find too often,” says Howe. “I told my staff: ‘if anyone is looking for the toilet, you walk them to the door!’.”