She’s voted the Best Female Chef in Asia 2015, an advocate for environmentally friendly dining and mother of one. Vicky Lau speaks to Rachel Ng during her visit to Malaysia as guest chef for RHB’S exclusive appreciation dinner, and we find out what inspir
Get up close with Vicky Lau, 2015’s Best Female Chef
How did you get into being a chef?
For me the act of creating is important, but we have to create something with meaning to it, not just for the sake of doing it. I was lucky enough to start off at a small boutique style firm focusing on environmental and pro bono accounts—so that was really designing for the betterment of society. After I moved back to Hong Kong, I realised that such companies didn’t exist there, so I freelanced, working random jobs just to pay the bills. Then I wanted to take a break and thought, I’ve always enjoyed cooking and making things with my own hands, so I might as well go to Le Cordon Bleu and learn something. After three months there, I fell in love with it, and told myself I have to finish the entire course. Then I worked at a French restaurant, so I thought I’d combine everything I know about design, food, culture and Hong Kong, thus Tate came to be.
How do you describe your cuisine?
I think it’s very me, in the sense that it’s a cultural mix, because I was born in the East but also lived in the West. Plus I’m very curious about different cultures, so I try to incorporate a little bit of my thinking as well as my experience from travelling. It’s also very feminine and focuses on storytelling, which is important as it’s the shortest time to get to know a person. I only get a few hours when my guests sit down and I want them to understand what my thoughts are. Therefore, I hope they get the message through each dish’s expressions.
Has your cooking evolved over time?
Yes, definitely. In the beginning since I was French trained I cooked more French style food. I would say also more gimmicky food because I wanted to catch the attention of people, but slowly you find the smoke and dry ice are just special effects that are not as important. So I tried to go back to the roots—everything needs to have a point if it is being served on the dish.
We learned that your business is going the more environmentally friendly route, could you tell us more?
The more you cook the more you get in touch with the environment and you realise that if you want it to last for the next generation you have to think about the surroundings. So we’ve given up bottled water, and put in a strong filtration system instead. As for tablecloths, I use synthetic leather that just needs a good wipe down so I don’t have to send the cloths to be bleached every day. Other things are sustainable seafood and table flowers. We don’t want to waste flowers unless it’s for special events so we used kitchen scraps and grew some plants like sweet potatoes to use as decor. We also have a bin inside the kitchen to collect food scraps and we try to make something out of it.