Mar­garetxu

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

THE CHEF, RESTAU­RA­TEUR AND TV PRE­SEN­TER DE­SCRIBES HOW HER CHILD­HOOD PAS­SION FOR UN­USUAL IN­GRE­DI­ENTS AND EX­OTIC RECIPES SHAPED HER CULI­NARY OUT­LOOK

Mar­garet Xu was flick­ing through one of her fa­ther’s mag­a­zines when she was just 12 and came across a recipe for the Rus­sian soup bortsch. In­trigued, she slipped out to the lo­cal wet mar­ket, bought the in­gre­di­ents and made it for her par­ents. In­spired by the glow­ing re­sponse she re­ceived, she started ex­per­i­ment­ing, sub­scrib­ing to in­ter­na­tional mag­a­zines and buy­ing cook­ery books so she could make Western recipes with in­trigu­ing names such as cae­sar salad and pavlova.

“I quickly re­alised what an in­nately hu­man ac­tiv­ity cook­ing is. So when I was 16 and my friend told me she was get­ting mar­ried, I of­fered to cater for the 40 guests on my own—no mean feat when you have no pro­fes­sional train­ing.” Xu’s fam­ily was stunned by her suc­cess that night and sub­se­quently of­fered to pay for her to at­tend a culi­nary school over­seas. How­ever, de­spite the pull the kitchen had al­ways ex­erted, Xu de­cided to stay in Hong Kong and study de­sign and com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­stead.

“We weren’t from a rich fam­ily and I never thought I could own a restau­rant of my own, so I de­cided to try ad­ver­tis­ing, a ca­reer I thought I could suc­ceed in. But I was al­ways drawn to the projects mar­ket­ing food, so 10 years ago I started sell­ing take­aways in a de­sign shop. Soon peo­ple were queu­ing around the block and at that point a restau­rant seemed in­evitable.”

That restau­rant, Yin Yang, was in Wan Chai, and it con­tin­ues to flour­ish after mov­ing to the beach at Ting Kau, near Tsuen Wan. “I love my job and I’m there for ev­ery ser­vice. I think it’s im­por­tant to in­spire peo­ple to try un­usual Can­tonese cook­ing and taste the or­ganic vegetables from my farm. So the items I chose to rep­re­sent me are cook­books, recipes and pretty bis­cuit mak­ers from my child­hood, be­cause I have learnt that youth­ful pas­sions tell you so much about who you are.”

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