Hot on the heels of her win for San Pellegrino’s Asia’s Best Female Chef award, Little Bao and Second Draft’s May Chow, opens her third Hong Kong venture, Happy Paradise, just a few doors down from Little Bao, to the delight of this city’s open and eager palates. We snagged her for a quick moment to find out the skinny on the spotlight the award has shone on her and the lowdown on what is sure to be this city’s hottest new spot, Happy Paradise:
Brag about yourself for a minute and tell us why you think you were chosen for this award?
I’m awesome! No, just kidding. I think to be honest, there’s really not a lot of female chefs in Asia that are doing a little more outspoken and I’m very outspoken and I knew what story I wanted to tell really early on, even before I opened the restaurant so I think it’s the story that’s really clear that attracted people to our food and our brand and our restaurant as well.
How will you use the recognition that comes with this award?
I think I question a lot about, is this the tipping point that it will go downwards? So I’m always scared. I think it’s important to celebrate, but also be humble and just keep looking forward to improving myself and my team, and then on top of that, I think you have to have a sense of social responsibility so I hope that, you know, I was quite privileged to be allowed to have this voice and I have to speak for people that don’t and I think that, especially in Hong Kong, I want local chefs to explore their dreams and what they want to do.
Szechuan Fried Chicken at Little Bao
Since the BBC picked up the story of your award, has it gotten a little crazy?
It’s been really crazy, especially because it’s BBC and they have such a high viewership. I think what happened was that day [the story was published], before we opened at six, there were 40 or 50 people down the street and we’re only a 20 seat restaurant, so it was pretty crazy.
Who has supported you the most professionally within the industry?
I’m very lucky. I have a very strong team with two chefs that started with me from really early on when we first opened. In the industry, we’re very lucky to have groups like Black Sheep, or Matt from Yardbird and Max Levy at Okra, there’s a really good camaraderie in Hong Kong and I think that’s really important.
What can you tell us about Happy Paradise?
Happy Paradise is a very modern Chinese restaurant and bar, so we’re focusing mainly on Cantonese and Chiu Chow, a little bit cleaner flavours but of course with the late night vibe so I like to call it Neo-Cantonese bites with really awesome cocktails. So I think that’s the basis of it but I want that feeling of very loose fluid restaurant. I think it’s rarely seen in Hong Kong, I don’t want it to be too branded, I just want it to be fluid. So I think we’ll be changing the menu all the time, it’s gonna be really loud, it’s almost like my alter ego. Little Bao is really fun but I think this is the darker side or the more adventurous side of what I’m trying to do.