A GOOD chef pays attention to every detail, no matter how small; from the quality of the ingredients to the ambience of a restaurant in order to create a quality dining experience, Hong Kong’s three Michelin star chef Albert Au Kwok Keung said.
Au gave cooking demonstrations as he took centre stage at the recent Taste Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) in Berjaya Times Square Hotel. He also served two private dinners at The Westin Kuala Lumpur hotel.
According to the humble yet friendly chef, the key to a chef’s success is to make a connection with the diners because “without the customers, the chef is nothing”.
“I am very happy whenever I see chefs communicating with diners to get feedback, because that’s how you get acknowledgement and improve,” said Au.
Au specialises in Cantonese cuisine but does not follow the trend of creating fusion dishes. He prefers to use quality ingredients from around the world and apply traditional Chinese styles of cooking, using them in new ways to create unique dishes.
“Chinese cuisine has a very long history and in China, there are 89 different schools of cuisines,” said Au, who uses his knowledge of the various styles to create dishes that no one else has done before.
As a chef, he says it is his responsibility to go to the market every day to scout for the freshest and highest quality ingredients to see what he can work with.
Au also believes a chef must be very involved in the process, from the team in the kitchen to the music and ambience of the restaurant, to create the best dining experience for customers.
“It is important for the entire team to be fully engaged.
“They need to feel a sense of belonging so that they can be passionate about what they are delivering to the customers,” he added.
In the food and beverage industry today, Au believes successful restaurants must be adaptable and flexible to changes.
Incorporating new trends such as the open-kitchen concept and live cooking stations, where customers can see their food being prepared, helps make the kitchen more dynamic and interactive.
“Diners can see how their food is being prepared rather than just see food brought out from the kitchen, so it creates that connection between the customer and the chef,” he added.
Diners who attended his private dinners at Five Sen5ses restaurant, The Westin Kuala Lumpur, got to see this first-hand.
The dinner featured seven smaller courses with an emphasis on seafood and featured fine ingredients from Spanish black caviar to abalone and Boston lobster, and it was undoubtedly a real treat to all in attendance.
The dishes served were also made using Lee Kum Kee sauces, where Au is consultant chef.
Au is the group executive chef for Lai Sun F&B Management, which runs a chain of luxury restaurants in Hong Kong and China.