Hong Kong Delights Young Chef Winner
Essex chef Robert Hall, winner of our Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year 2014 competition, recalls the highlights and excitement of his prize to Hong Kong in October.
"Hong Kong is an amazing place where people are truly passionate about fresh food and I was lucky enough to spend a week there as winner of the Young Chef of the Year competition earlier this year.
It provided unique work experience I could only dream of and reminded me why I do what I do. I was warmly welcomed in kitchens as varied as a Michelin-starred venue to a traditional dim sum restaurant and I was able to explore the vibrant street food scene and sample an astonishing array of different foods and flavours.
Hong Kong's culture and how people view food and life is something to be admired and embraced. I learned so much during my stay; firstly that you can fit a large amount of chefs in a very small kitchen!
My favourite place to work was the Hong Kong Jockey Club, an incredibly disciplined and organised operation. I witnessed some real talent there and how they are all so passionate and take pride in everything they produce.
I also learned from and enjoyed the experience of working at Hong Kong Disneyland, Michelin-starred Bo Innovation and FINDS restaurant and bar. Each place was vastly different but had certain things in common such as expert team work and organisation, clean and tidy kitchens and sheer passion and dedication.
I learned how a massive organisation worked at Disneyland, whilst the first class team at the Hong Kong Jockey Club were in a league of their own.
They worked incredibly hard and were organised beyond belief which came as no surprise when you witness their amazing food.
The team at FINDS seemed like a real family unit and made me feel so welcome. Their Nordic food concept is really cool and unique and gives them the freedom to do something different on a daily basis.
The food markets are very special, probably the best thing about Hong Kong. I love that the local people appreciate good food and want to eat fresh, seasonal produce. On my last day I went to a fishing village which was such a humbling experience as the people were so content and happy with their lives. Believe it or not, the food I ate there was the best I ate on the whole trip! I had Pandan herb waffle and some fresh soya milk that had been ground down that morning; it was so refreshing and smooth.
The whole trip was memorable and special. I don't think I've said wow, amazing, unbelievable and incredible so many times in one week!
Entries are now open for the 2015 Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year competition and will again offer a prize trip to Hong Kong. It's a great opportunity and I would advise all young chefs to grasp it as I did!"
For more information about the competition and to download an entry pack, click here.