Named Best Chef: Southwest by the James Beard Foundation, JANOS WILDER opened his groundbreaking restaurant Janos in 1983 and recently opened the acclaimed Kai Restaurant at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona. This is his second book. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.
THE AUTHOR SCOOP
When did you know you were a writer? I’ve been writing since I was a kid and have always liked it. My Dad was the first one to teach me how to write. When I was about 10 or 11, I’d write in long, puffed up sentences using the biggest words I knew. When I’d proudly show my writing to my dad, he laugh and tell me that “I was enamored with the sound of my own words.” It took me a while to understand what he was trying to tell me: that good writing is about communicating with your reader. It’s the same thing with cooking. Good cooks don’t cook for themselves but for their guests.What was your first job? Washing dishes in a Chinese food restaurantWhat's the first concert you ever attended? I’m the youngest of three raised in the Bay Area. In 1968, I was 13 and my sister was 15. This was soon after the Summer of Love in San Francisco and my sister had been bugging our mom to let her go to a rock concert. My Mom was not about to let her go on her own so she took us both to see the Jefferson Airplane and Buffalo Springfield and the University of San Francisco Gymnasium. What's the history of your name? My given first name is John. I was given the name Janos by a Native American Chef I worked with in Boulder, CO in the mid-70’s. For the last 20-25 years I’ve been working with a lot of ingredients originally, and in many cases, still farmed by Native Americans. Many of our guests like the link between the name and the ingredients we use. In fact, it’s purely coincidental. Janos is not a Native American name. The truth is there were just too many Johns in the kitchen at the time and the Chef, Robert, just started calling me by a nickname, which stuck.Who would you cast as yourself in a movie of your life? Danny DiVito