One on One with The Great One – Chef Tak from Lung King Heen at Four Seasons Hong Kong
Hong Kong born and bred, Chan Yan Tak started working in kitchens out of necessity, but he soon grew to love cooking. Which is just as well, as in 2008 he became the first Chinese chef in history to be awarded three Michelin stars, for Lung King Heen at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Today, we’re bringing you the part of our exclusive interview with Chef Chan Yan Tak in our “One on One with The Great One” session.
Hi Chef Chan Yan Tak . Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. First off, why did you decide to become a chef? What other back-of-the-house positions have you previously held?
I started my career in Dai Sam Yuen when I was 13. I was the eldest of five children, naturally I took the lead to support my family financially at an early age. Back in those days, there were only a handful of Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong and they offer great job security by providing accommodation and meals. Gradually, I stepped up the ladder learning from the best Chinese chefs by observation, I then moved onto Fuk Lam Moon, a traditional Chinese restaurant that specializes in braised abalone and shark fins.
I became the Executive Chinese Chef of Lai Ching Heen at The Regent, which is now known as The InterContinental. At that time, the Hotel was a Four Seasons managed hotel, and there was a saying that goes like this : If you haven’t visited Lai Ching Heen, you haven’t been to Hong Kong. That was also the time when Hong Kong’s economy flourished, locals and visitors alike favoured novelty and I churned out 20 new dishes every month. Subsequently, I retired as I needed to tend to my sick wife and be the pillar in my family. When Four Seasons reopened on Hong Kong side, the hotel manager asked for my professional advise on kitchen design and conceptual ideas, eventually I couldn’t resist getting back to where is passion is and spearheaded Lung King Heen since 2005.
What is your favorite cuisine? How many different types of cuisine are you capable of producing?
Luckily Hong Kong is a city with cultural diversity and we have loaded with options such as French, Japanese, Mexican and Spanish etc. After all, a home cooked meal is the most endearing to me as my children will come back home and dine together. Whenever I tell them I boiled a pot of Cantonese soup, they will return home and spend time together. Cantonese cuisine is primarily what I specialize in.
What trends are you noticing regarding wine and food pairings?
Sommeliers in Lung King Heen has been putting more focus on Chinese wines and spirits such as Shaoxing Hua Diao
Is there a chef you admire the most? Who and why?
Every chef is admirable as it requires determination, sacrifice and endurance to be this career. When everyone is on holiday and celebrating festivities, chefs are the ones working behind the scenes making sure guests at the restaurant enjoy the night!
What are your biggest achievements and what are you most proud of?
Creating memorable moments for guests! I usually go to the restaurant and ask for guests feedback at lunch hours and a Mexican guest was in tears because he enjoyed the food so much! Of course, being the first Chinese chef to receive three Michelin stars and to earn the same recognition for 9 consecutive years was a honor. It is also the hard work of all kitchen and service staff that made it possible! It’s a concerted effort and I am blessed to have a wonderful team to work with.
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Phone : (852) 3196 8307