The Hong Kong Tourism Board hosted a June 13 VIP Pop Up Media Luncheon in Los Angeles on the Lukshon patio, showcasing the collective 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. After the luncheon, with assistance from a Cantonese translator, I learned more about Cheng Kam Fu, who started cooking in 1973 and continues to hone his craft at Celebrity Cuisine, which has starred inside Lan Kwai Fong Hotel since 2007. Here are some of his insights.
Did you always plan to become a chef, or did you consider other careers?
I wanted to work with machines. I like mechanisms. I moved to Hong Kong and started my career as a chef, because it’s easier to work.
What is the criteria for a dish that goes on your menu?
In Chinese cuisine, we always have soup. We have stir-fried things. And then we’ll have fish. We’ll surely have fish. Then you’ll have all around things. If you want to make a salad, it’s on the menu.
What was the most recent dish you created, and what was the inspiration?
My most famous creation is chicken wing stuffed with bird’s nest. That is because I’m working for a rich man, a tycoon in Hong Kong. He has been eating everything. It’s always a challenge to think of something new. I want to do something – chicken is so ordinary – but how do I make it so I can present it to the tycoon or the rich people? I included bird’s nest into an ordinary chicken wing to get something the rich people would fancy.
Is there anything you don’t enjoy eating?
I don’t eat the pork fat, so I seldom use pork fat in my dishes, which is different from traditional Chinese cooking.
When people hear your name, what do you want them to think?
Related to my food, which is chicken wing stuffed with bird’s nest.
What was the last meal that you cooked at home?
Festival celebration, I braised dried oysters, traditional food.
What steps do you take to have balance in your life?
Wife is my balance. If she’s happy, I’m balanced.