CHE­UNG SIU KONG

Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tive chef, Sum­mer Pav­il­ion, The Ritz-Carl­ton, Mil­lenia Sin­ga­pore

Wine & Dine - - BEHIND THE SCENES: VISIONARIES -

For­merly from Lei Gar­den in Hong Kong where he per­fected his skills at craft­ing del­i­cate dim sums, chef Che­ung Siu Kong moved to Sin­ga­pore in 1996 and joined Sum­mer Pav­il­ion at The Ritz-Carl­ton, Mil­lenia Sin­ga­pore in 2003. A pas­sion­ate chef who picked up cooking from his grand­mother at the age of seven, chef Che­ung is known for his con­tem­po­rary Can­tonese dishes that bring out the nat­u­ral flavours of the in­gre­di­ents. He was ap­pointed the ex­ec­u­tive chi­nese chef of Sum­mer Pav­il­ion in 2014, and has since led the es­tab­lish­ment to main­tain a Miche­lin star for three con­sec­u­tive years.

What’s your bench­mark for a top Chi­nese fine din­ing restau­rant?

What de­fines an ex­cep­tional din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is per­son­alised ser­vice— where guests are greeted by their names, and their pref­er­ences are un­der­stood and met. The au­then­tic taste of the cui­sine along­side in­no­va­tive dishes and an el­e­vated din­ing am­bi­ence also con­trib­ute to the recipe for suc­cess.

What sets Sum­mer Pav­il­ion apart from other Chi­nese fine din­ing restau­rants?

We pro­vide a win­ning com­bi­na­tion of per­son­alised ser­vice, cou­pled with the au­then­tic taste of our cui­sine and a con­tem­po­rary din­ing am­bi­ence at Sum­mer Pav­il­ion.

How has the restau­rant scene evolved since you first started work­ing in Sin­ga­pore?

With Sin­ga­pore hav­ing es­tab­lished its pres­ence as a gour­mand’s par­adise, com­pe­ti­tion has in­creased tremen­dously over the years. A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of es­tab­lished restau­rants, renowned chefs and dif­fer­ent cuisines rang­ing from Korean to Mediter­ranean have pen­e­trated the mar­ket. This in­flux has pro­vided din­ers with a lot more choices, which makes it more chal­leng­ing for a restau­rant and chef to find their com­pet­i­tive edge.

Among all the dishes on the menu, which is a test­ing mea­sure of a good Can­tonese kitchen?

I feel that dishes with ‘wok hei’ best rep­re­sent Can­tonese cui­sine. It is a tech­nique that show­cases the chef’s skills, and the aroma also en­hances the flavour of the dish. Per­son­ally, I re­ally en­joy a sim­ple dish of fried rice, where the wok’s “breath” is es­sen­tial in adding flavour in­ten­sity to this clas­sic dish.

That said, the Can­tonese are well known for their soups, so I would say that Can­tonese soups—where the soup looks clear but tastes flavour­ful—are a test­ing mea­sure of the cui­sine. Soups evoke a feel­ing of home, as they are tra­di­tion­ally part of a home-cooked Can­tonese meal. My sons al­ways re­quest for soup when­ever they come home for din­ner.

How im­por­tant is it for Chi­nese chefs to in­no­vate and up­date Can­tonese cui­sine for a modern au­di­ence?

The fu­sion of Western and Eastern cooking tech­niques and flavours are in­creas­ingly well re­ceived, and I fore­see that din­ers will be par­tial to­wards try­ing such menus. It is there­fore im­por­tant to con­tin­u­ously in­no­vate the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for our guests. Mov­ing for­ward, I think the Can­tonese din­ing scene in Sin­ga­pore will con­tinue to take in­spi­ra­tion from the West, in terms of plat­ing and through wine pair­ing op­tions, but the essence of Can­tonese cooking—which is its wok tech­nique and flavours, will re­main.

What are some of your new dishes?

We re­cently launched a new tast­ing menu at Sum­mer Pav­il­ion fea­tur­ing new culi­nary high­lights, such as smoked duck with crispy bean­curd skin; sautéed diced Miyazaki wagyu beef with bit­ter gourd and black bean sauce; and poached ver­mi­celli with abalone in fish broth. There is also a wine pair­ing op­tion for this menu.

Mov­ing for­ward, what are your plans for Sum­mer Pav­il­ion?

I have plans to in­tro­duce new dishes to the menu at Sum­mer Pav­il­ion. At the same time, it is im­por­tant for us to up­keep both our culi­nary and ser­vice stan­dards to en­sure an im­pec­ca­ble din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for all our guests.

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