The Hong Kong Tourism Board hosted a June 13 Pop Up Media Luncheon in Los Angeles on the Lukshon patio, showcasing the talents of Hong Kong based chefs Cheng Kam Fu (Celebrity Cuisine), Mango Tsang (Ming Court) and Mak Kwai Pui (Tim Ho Wan), plus two courses from host chef Sang Yoon. I learned more about Mango Tsang after the luncheon. The chef, full name Mango Tsang Chiu Lit, has cooked for over four decades, serves as Chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese Chefs Association, runs marathons, and joined Ming Court at Langham Place, Mongkok, in March 2013. Here are some additional insights.
Did you always plan to become a chef, or did you consider other careers?
It’s a little bit different for me. When I was young, when I was a student, about 13 years old, I liked to stay behind the dai pai dong – in Hong Kong, it’s a kitchen beside the streets – I stayed in the dai pai dong more than one hour and see how to cook. So when I joined in the kitchen, only 15 years old. Now it’s around 43 years in the kitchen. It’s my interest.
What is the criteria for a dish that goes on your menu?
I work in a hotel, so many different cultures will be in the hotel. We have an a la carte menu, the wedding banquet, outside catering, buffet, cocktail, so I think it’s more credible, my menu. Everything is different.
What was the most recent dish you created, and what was the inspiration?
We use black truffle sauce as an ingredient and put it inside Chinese food, especially for the stir-fry egg white with crab meat and black truffle sauce. It’s a very good match, so it’s popular in our restaurant. Italian black truffle sauce. It’s very popular in our restaurant.
Is there anything you don’t enjoy eating?
I don’t eat durian.
When people hear your name, what do you want them to think?
A lot of people know about me because I work in the kitchen for a long, long time. I have a long history in Hong Kong. Hotel chef. I’ve worked in hotels for more than 30 years.
What was the last meal that you cooked at home?
I cook nothing in my home, only shabu shabu because my wife complains. After I cook, she cleans the kitchen more than my preparation. It takes more than two hours, because I cook in a professional kitchen. Many supporters for us. At home, it’s my wife who cleans everything. On my day off, I want to take my family outside to dinner and taste everything…In Hong Kong, in every home, the kitchen is small because the houses are very expensive. It’s difficult for us, cooking at home.
What steps do you take to have balance in your life?
Enjoy life. Work hard, play hard.