Jöne Pan has a computer science degree and an MBA, but food has always been her passion. After leaving the corporate world behind, she cooked under various Michelin-starred chefs in the Bay Area and France, including Christopher Kostow, Hélène Darroze, Mauro Colagreco, Jean-François Piège, and David Kinch. After experiencing some chronic health problems and leaving the restaurant kitchen, Jöne learned she was intolerant to gluten, eggs, and dairy. She adopted an anti-Candide and Paleo lifestyle, which eliminated her health issues. Jönes Gelato is a dessert she herself can eat — it’s Paleo, gluten-free, egg-free, and sugar-free — but it’s also delicious!
Want to meet Jöne and taste her amazing gelato? She’ll be speaking (and scooping) at our San Francisco #girlswithknives event on March 28th.
How did you find your way into the historically male-dominated culinary industry?
Having a quarter-life crisis, dropping my corporate life cold turkey, and moving to France to study cooking and work in Michelin restaurants.
What has been a defining moment, positive or negative, in your culinary career?
After a week or so of working double shifts and feeling like death in my first French stage at a Michelin restaurant, I saved the ass of a male coworker who was dans la merde during service. He had been really mean to me, and after that day, he was nothing but nice.
Tell us about the women who serve up culinary inspiration in your life.
My mother was always cooking and feeding me the best Shanhainese cuisine abundant with vegetables (broccoli was a favorite thing to eat growing up), as well as showing me how to eat head to tail. I cannot cook Chinese cuisine if my life depended on it — but it was definitely due to the food I ate as a child that made me an adventurous eater.
Locally, I’ve always been impressed by Michelle, the founder of Nana Joe’s Granola. She doesn’t stop, is so resilient, is such a badass in the kitchen and in life, and is always the sweetest. I’d also say Julia Child because it was due to her and Jacques Pepin’s PBS specials I watched as a kid that got me deeper into food. I also admire Dominique Crenn and Hélène Darroze for being top Michelin chefs in such a tough field. They stick to their style, and their food is unique. I am also very intrigued by French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, although I haven’t eaten at her restaurants yet.
What advice do you have for other women trying to build culinary careers?
Meditate and don’t forget about self care! If you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Talk to as many people as you can in the industry. Many people are happy to help, and it’s always great to prevent mistakes that other people have already made. Also – be open, learn, and keep going.