10 min­utes with...

DES­MOND CHANG, Founder of Ruyi and the CEO of In­he­sion Asia

Epicure - - EPICURE LOVES -

Tell us more about RUYI.

RUYI tells the story of eastern cul­ture – its philoso­phies and wis­dom – through five table­ware col­lec­tions. In­fini, our maiden se­ries, show­cases Tao­ism. It rep­re­sents Yin and Yang; the fluid lines are fem­i­nine, while porce­lain is mas­cu­line. Next is the Han Tang col­lec­tion that's in­spired by in­tri­cate bronze­work and lac­quer­ware from the two dy­nas­ties. The Aroma col­lec­tion speaks of tea, a quin­tes­sen­tial part of our cul­ture and will be de­signed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a renowned tea master. The last two are Bud­dhism (ti­tled Lo­tus) and Con­fu­cian­ism. I choose th­ese five el­e­ments as they are still re­spected through­out Asia and form the back­bone of ori­en­tal cul­ture.

How does In­fini re­flect what chefs are look­ing for th­ese days?

While it is a short col­lec­tion of only 12 pieces, it cov­ers what a chef needs. It’s nei­ther square nor round and con­sists of dif­fer­ent depths and open­ings – a blank can­vas to up­lift any cui­sine. Yet, it is prac­ti­cal. That’s what’s of­ten over­looked. Stack­able cups are use­ful but looks cheap. It’s a fine bal­ance be­tween be­ing unique and prag­matic.

What are your thoughts on the cur­rent state of Chi­nese cui­sine? There’s pro­gres­sive In­dian, Per­anakan and Thai, but where’s mod­ern Chi­nese cui­sine? The lengthy menu never changes; there’s no omakase-style din­ing and they don’t go by sea­sons.

I am op­ti­mistic. Western chefs are look­ing into Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents and the metic­u­lous tech­niques be­hind, say, the mak­ing of crispy duck. It’s go­ing to force Chi­nese chefs to push their bound­aries – whether they like it or not

Ev­ery­one needs to refuse to eat an amaz­ing dish served on a plas­tic plate or a chipped bowl for the sake of know­ing “what tastes good”. We are not do­ing our cui­sine jus­tice; we are our own worst en­emy. It’s a big step, but it might bring us back to the height of stun­ningly plated Im­pe­rial cui­sine of yesteryears.

You've dined at Noma 2.0. What was it like?

Noma 2.0 is the stage to push forth René Redzepi's phi­los­o­phy. Ev­ery­thing is thought out. The de­sign, from the in­te­ri­ors to the table­ware, and the pas­sion­ate staff tells one story; to re­spect na­ture and the fever­ous search for gas­tron­omy. It rep­re­sents the new form of lux­ury, where wind blow­ing on wild flow­ers take the place of fresh cut blooms in a vase. It’s in­trigu­ing. It’s al­most as if it rep­re­sents the col­lec­tive urge of hu­man­ity to give back, to make up for the guilt of over-con­sum­ing.

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