Before becoming The Resort at Paws Up’s executive chef, Sunny Jin’s culinary journey took him around the world, cooking for some of the planet’s finest restaurants—Napa Valley’s French Laundry, Catalonia’s El Bulli and Australia’s Tetsuya’s. While his culinary skills have impressed discriminating palates globally, it’s the American Northwest where he feels most at home. His formative cooking skills developed in Portland, Oregon, at the Western Culinary Institute, where he won the coveted Grand Toque Award as the top culinary student.
But where Jin really earned his cooking chops was at the French Laundry—one of the most lauded restaurants in the Northern Hemisphere. He spent three years working under renowned chefs Thomas Keller and Corey Lee. “We were literally creating new menus every day, learning to really focus. The amazing culture at the French Laundry was so much about the culinary community,” said Jin. Those community contacts and a growing global curiosity took Jin to Australia, and the highest-rated restaurant in the Southern Hemisphere, Tetsuya’s, where he cooked alongside the legendary Tetsuya Wakuda.
So how do you top working for some of the best restaurants on earth? If you’re Chef Sunny Jin, you go to the best restaurant on earth—El Bulli (named by Restaurant magazine as the top-rated restaurant in the world a record five times). While in Catalonia, Jin worked with El Bulli’s celebrated Chef Ferran Adrià. Intrigued by what made El Bulli tick, Jin learned care in preparation and inventiveness in his dishes.
The siren call of the American Northwest eventually brought Jin back stateside to work in Oregon’s emerging food and wine scene—at the Allison Inn & Spa’s Jory restaurant. His Jory menu focused on local gardens, neighboring farms and seasonal ingredients.
“Now I bring my ‘cook locally, cook sustainably’ philosophy to work at Paws Up,” Jin explained. Today, instead of traveling the globe, Jin’s journey of discovery takes him around Montana. He is dedicated to building relationships with the agricultural community, bringing purveyors and guests together at events and of course foraging for the finest local ingredients. “Lots of new exciting ideas occur to me every day in Montana. It’s such an inspiring place, with culinary riches, wild huckleberries, cherries, wild chamomile—even elk, bison and trout,” said Jin.
From the Northwest to California to Australia to Spain and back to the Northwest—Jin’s journey has indeed come full circle, as all that culinary skill descends on the plates of Paws Up in Greenough, Montana.