Tuck Shop Chef Jon Yagin shares how to make one of his signature island-inspired dishes, his background, and tips for finding inspiration

Over the last six months, as the world has made some major shifts in the way we work, socialize, and live with each other, few industries have been impacted more than the food industry. Suddenly, chefs who were used to spending their time cooking for hundreds or thousands of people each day were forced to retreat to their own kitchens. This effect was felt at Dropbox too, as our offices and Tuck Shops closed indefinitely.

But as if the coronavirus pandemic were simply a mystery basket on Chopped, our Tuck Shop chefs have found ways to figuratively turn lemons into lemonade. One such chef is San Francisco’s Jon Yagin. We asked him to demonstrate one of his favorite at-home recipes for us in a self-filmed video, which was a new and exciting experience for him.

“I’ve filmed a few times at Dropbox, like for a holiday gift cooking video we did with sous vide, where we showed Dropboxers how to do it. But making a dish and talking about it in my own home was awesome. I had to try and think of it like I was talking to a friend — how would I make this for them, and make the experience fun? I wasn’t completely comfortable, but I did enjoy it, and I think as I do more videos I’ll enjoy it more and more. A lot of the tips the director [collaborating via Zoom from another location] gave me were really good, like pausing at the end of a sentence instead of laughing right away. I tend to laugh when I get nervous!”

Even if Jon was nervous, it sure didn’t show in his final dish. He prepared a gorgeous soy glazed shichimi togarashi seared salmon with a yuzu butter sauce, inspired by both his island background and his love for color.

“Growing up in Hawaii, I was surrounded by amazing produce and vegetables and fish, so I always gravitate toward those. I also work with color; that’s a big thing for me in my dishes, and everyone at work knows that about me. It’s always about textures too, putting things together that are different — something hot, something cold, something crispy, something fresh — those are all the components in a dish that I like doing. I knew this was gonna be on film, so I wanted to make something that was really vibrant and still represented me. It’s still pretty simple compared to the stuff we do at work, it was hard for me to trim down from that!”

One thing Jon isn’t trimming down on is getting inspiration to keep cooking, even while the Tuck Shop is closed. For him, biking around the city helps to get his creative juices flowing again.

“There are still a lot of uneventful times too, a lot of ham and cheese sandwich days. But I do find myself getting inspired by biking around the city and getting fresh air. It’s kind of difficult getting inspiration being in your apartment all day. So I have to get outside, even if it’s not the best weather. I’ll ride around the city, and I’ll pass a restaurant on my bike and remember a dish I really liked there — so then I bike to a grocery store and get those ingredients and make it myself!”

You might have to break out your own bike and get to the store if you don’t have yuzu and shichimi togarashi at home, but the final outcome of Jon’s dish will blow your tastebuds away. Ready to give it a shot? You can check out his tutorial here.

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