We had the good fortune of connecting with Guna Thangavelu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Guna, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
From childhood, I have eaten good food. The first time when I realized the world, I tasted the best mashed potatoes that my mom made since I refused to take milk. I became round like a potato. As a young boy, I wanted to be a police officer. As time went by, I discovered a lot of good food in my home town of Perak, Malaysia. Malaysia is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious country, so I was able to explore many cuisines as I developed my tastes. By the time I was age of 13, I was able to work during school holidays which led me to fall in love with culinary arts. Since Perak’s economy at the time was partly in tourism, I started working at a small hotel as a dishwasher. I argued with my supervisors to let me cook, even though I didn’t know how to cook, but they stationed me at cutting vegetables for six months. By the age of 20, I began a culinary diploma course supported by the 4-star hotel where I had a prep cook position. As I am a fast learner, I always advocated to my supervisors for my skills and abilities to move up the career ladder. Culinary arts has gifted me the opportunity to challenge myself and to continuously learn and grow in this industry.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The culinary industry is challenging as it’s full of long hours and hard, physical labor. I’ve worked in 5-star hotels, owned my own restaurant as well as worked as a private chef on yachts. Challenges are expected and nothing is easy in life, but when you focus and put your effort, you can achieve anything and challenges lead to creations.
Every dish I create I see as infusing my happiness in creating this dish into the dish. The food is healthy and full of love because I’m able to share the food I create with the world. My toughest experience was when I was a chef on board a yacht and the client requested to not have any repeat dishes over a month along with many dietary restrictions. Every day, for 3 meals a day, I succeeded to fulfill the request by preparing a week-long menu and became a skinny chef in the process!
I create dishes drawing from my various experiences working over 25 years in the hotel/restaurant industry and through my travels. I’ve traveled throughout southeast Asia, India, South Africa, Australia/New Zealand, and the United States. This has led me to bring flavor fusion into the dishes I create such as my signature Seafood Saffron, Garlic Herb Rice, Cajun Meat Masala. I’m proudest of my skills as I adapt quickly being a fast learner and my curiosity about food motivates me to seek out new tastes to try.
My clients expect flavorful, delicious, and healthy meals as I only use fresh spices, herbs, and other ingredients to bring color to my dishes. Every menu I build uniquely to my clients’ requests while encouraging them to try something different and new to create an unforgettable dining experience.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve been in the Bryan/College Station area since September 2019 so still exploring Houston, but some favorites so far:
Montrose Ave antique/junk store treasure hunting
Sangam Chettinad Indian Cuisine
Keemat grocery Hillcroft
H Mart and Viet Hoa supermarket
Houston farmer’s market
POV coffee house
Nikki and Lamar’s
Last Remnant of Nawlins
La Espiga Dorada Bakery
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mother motivated me in my cooking. Though she is not a chef, she taught me about good food: spices, cooking skills, tastes.
Chefs like Jean-Pierre Brehier, Anthony Bourdain, and Martin Yan have provided encouragement and motivation with details of their travels and shared skills.
Youtube: Coming soon!
Lisa Tauferner (my wife)