Chef Daniel Garwood On Grabbing Every Opportunity, Life Changing Projects, and Embedding Integrity

Daniel Garwood, chef at 2 Michelin starred restaurant, Atomix No. 8 in New York, has had a diverse career so far. He’s grabbed every opportunity that has come his way and this Tassie born chef has been fortunate to travel the world learning all sorts of culinary techniques.

His role with Atomix, (currently ranked in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants top 10 and Best Restaurant in North America) he counts as one of the most fun and interesting roles he’s had so far. Since joining, Daniel has worked on a number of life-changing projects collaborating with big restaurants, including Boragó, Quintonil, Le Du and Odette. His team is supportive of his own goals and dreams, helping him train for the SP Young chef academy US final, which he won in October 2022. To cook world-class modern Korean cuisine, Daniel counts using luxury ingredients as key importance, while embedding Korean integrity to every dish. That, along with a good bit of New York style thrown in for good measure.

Salt Baked beetroot in Heirloom rye, salted cherry blossom, Jigaemi cream (right)
Pickled pumpkin wrapped in dulse, kelp, cimarron lettuce (left)

Early career

Daniel’s career started when he was training for an apprenticeship with the Henry Jones Art Hotel, part of the Federal Group in Tasmania. During his time there, he was encouraged to compete in a few national competitions, one of them being the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat competition which he won in 2013; a massive boost to Daniel’s career.

After completing his apprenticeship, Daniel started working at Garagistes in Hobart, which has so far been the biggest influence on his career and views as a chef, working alongside renowned world class chefs Luke Burgess and William Gleave.

Aged Duck and Persimmon in Tak. Cheongju with Banchan ‘through the eyes of a traveller’

He got the opportunity to travel to Italy for a research trip of the Salone del Gusto after winning the Slow Food Scholarship in 2014. During that time, Daniel took the opportunity to visit the Fäviken in Sweden and In De Wulf in Belgium.

A chef’s journey

Sixpenny (2016-17) was also a key point in Daniel’s career. After winning the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat, he ate at the restaurant in 2013 and recalls it as one of the most influential meals of his life. He had the feeling that he would one day end up working there. And so it came to be, with him working alongside mentors, Aaron Ward and Dan Puskas. The concept behind the food is that it should be simple, clean and refined.

In 2017, Daniel stepped over to Kadeau, a restaurant that felt more like a family unit.

Describing the restaurant’s working environment, Daniel refers to the word, “Hygge”, in Danish, which means cosiness, being comfortable and together in the workplace.

Pork cracker, pickled radish, persimmon, Lardo, fermented Red Cabbage

Whilst there, Daniel realised that staff don’t need to work insanely long and high-stress hours to achieve something great, as both the staff and customers had fun and enjoyment while there.

After living and working in Denmark for a few years, Daniel was seeking a change. In 2019, South Korea became his next choice where he landed the head chef role at Evett in Seoul. Daniel’s first few months in Korea were intense, with culture shock setting in, but over time he fell in love with it, experiencing some life-changing moments.

“We went diving in Busan and foraging up mountains for doraji (a native root), which was amazing.”

Daniel worked on ORALIS (meaning a ‘fun’ project), that saw him creating a pop-up to raise awareness around mental health and suicide in the industry, which he ended up writing a book about. Alongside running the kitchen at Atomix, Daniel runs a small Korean alcohol brewery with his wife.

White Dashima tart, grilled maine Scallops, white kimchi paste, Dongchimi, Duck yukpo, sancho bud jangajji

For the love of the job

Daniel has always been influenced by restaurants that use wood grills and wood ovens. It’s this inspiration that led Daniel to his next move, which was opening Firedoor. Although only there a short time, Lennox Hastie and his team left a large imprint on his food philosophy.

Daniel attributes his success to his highly competitive nature by way of being obsessive in terms of getting the dishes just right. Being inquisitive and open to new experiences has led him down an interesting path to learn all sorts of different kitchen cultures, cuisines and cooking techniques.

“For me, it’s about being competitive on a daily basis but, most importantly, competitive with myself. It’s also about having limitless opportunities to be creative, striving to be a master of your craft and constantly making people happy.”

Advice for new chefs

Daniel highlights the need to respect the views or decisions of chef co-workers or restaurant owners, even when you don’t always agree with them. It’s important not to allow this to affect the way you work and acknowledge that you will occasionally need simply to follow the views of colleagues, even though you may see things a different way.

Dry aged Duck with preserved persimmon, blood sauce

Daniel believes in being devoted, in order to be great at something: constantly thinking about, living and breathing it. That’s not by working 80-hour weeks for free at work – but instead having a structured schedule outside of work to make time for study, exercise and honing techniques, which is invaluable.

“There are things in life that you don’t want to do, but you have to do them. You have to see these moments as opportunities and attempt those challenges with a positive attitude.”

Daniel advises learning about the world, how people think and the history of people and places, which can help you become a leader in any field. He believes in the need to train yourself to handle even the smallest things with precision and perfection, and organising life in a methodical way will lead to more creativity and clearer thinking.