To chefs in kitchens globally, there is no greater award to recognise the quality of their craft than a Michelin star. From the first MICHELIN Guide published in 1900, the French restaurant guide has captured the essence of fine-dining.

Hong Kong amassed a record 79 stars in the 2024 MICHELIN Guide, recognising a litany of quality establishments in the city. Only Tokyo (181), Paris (132), Kyoto (100), and Osaka (85) gained more Michelin stars.

The respected gold standard for dining has, in turn, compelled chefs to master their journey with a primary goal of clinching those red stars. 

We spoke to chef Barry Quek of Whey, chef Eric Räty of Arbor, and chef Adam Wong of Forum Restaurant to understand how they claimed their stars and what advice they have for chefs aiming their sights on the MICHELIN guide. 

Hong Kong’s Michelin chefs tell how they clinched their stars and how other chefs can too

Chef Barry Quek of Whey – 1 Michelin star

Michelin stars hong kong

“At Whey, we don’t see ourselves as fine-dining. We don’t have white tablecloths, you don’t have to quietly put down your utensils, and our service and dining experience is very approachable. With our presentation, we want to give the guests the comfort and accessibility to eat Singaporean food in our casual setting.

“A lot of the hawker food in Singapore will involve using your hands and [being] rustic. The dishes we serve [at Whey] involve layering of flavours, different to what you would expect in our very young country.

“When I was learning my craft as a chef, I wanted to learn French food simply because of its association with nouvelle cuisine. Something that I have struggled with previously is how an individual can look at [Singaporean] cuisine and what type of food it is.

“Personally, I wouldn’t say Singaporean cuisine has to be up there in the fine-dining scene, but to the diners here in Hong Kong, we cook in a way where we go beyond the casual scene to deliver quality.

“Working at Joël Robuchon restaurant in Singapore in my first job, the kitchen was very militaristic. We had to learn discipline, standing in silence waiting for orders. Every chef held a 15-centimetre ruler to precisely measure every vegetable and plate. If I never went into the Singaporean army, I wouldn’t have made it through [Joël] Robuchon.

“Earning one Michelin star is about discipline. There will be good and bad days, but you have to be consistent. Belief in your team is important. If you do not believe and train your team, [operating a restaurant] will be tough, because I don’t think it’s a one-man show. If I didn’t have support from my chefs and service team, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

“Retaining [a Michelin star] means pushing forward and setting goals to maintain a standard.”

Chef Eric Räty of Arbor – 2 Michelin stars

Michelin stars hong kong

“Hong Kong as a city is ever-changing. There are always new restaurants opening and people are always willing to try something new. Find your balance of cooking that is both exciting for you and the guest and maintain that.

“Five years after earning my first [Michelin] star, I think less about the award and more about the customer. We opened Arbor to provide a great service for the guest to make them happy and come back, an experience that they want to tell their friends. If you can make people come back, that’s the biggest win for a chef.

“To do the best and be the best, I think you need to find your own style and trust that style. I feel lucky [in Hong Kong] that what I have been doing has been accepted locally.

“I have seen many good chefs come to Hong Kong, and even though their skills can be amazing, the flavour profile or idea for the concept is not understood by Hong Kong. If you are able to get over that big wall and educate people to understand what you are doing, you have done well.

“For chefs that want to earn their second Michelin star, it’s best to not think too much and just do what you’re doing; otherwise you will stop yourself from progressing. Take it slow, try new things, and keep learning.”

Chef Adam Wong of Forum Restaurant –  3 Michelin stars

Michelin stars hong kong

“Earning three Michelin stars for Forum, I feel very honoured. I would like to sincerely thank all the friends from all walks of life who have always supported me. It is a very important achievement and affirmation for me, the company, and the entire team. 

“In addition to feeling happy, we must remind ourselves that we must remain diligent and attentive all the time. We must prepare every dish carefully and we must not disappoint our guests.

“To earn my stars, the quality of ingredients and service is vital, ensuring every meal and detail is followed through with care. We need to listen to our customers to provide the finest experience for Chinese food.

“My philosophy of cooking is that change is the real key to longevity in the industry, which requires continuous progress and improvement. Doing the best is when everyone needs to chase a goal. Only in this way can we continuously improve our skills and service quality.

“If I were to advise others in pushing themselves and their restaurants to earn this prestigious award, I would say to add more value to yourself, learn the strengths of others, and educate diners about yourself as a chef, the restaurant, and your brand. You need to communicate more with peers and those in different sectors on what is so special about the dishes you make. Above all, stay competitive.”

Rubin Verebes is the Managing Editor of Foodie, a culinary connoisseur, and guiding force behind the magazine's delectable stories. With a knack for cooking up mouthwatering profiles, crafting immersive restaurant reviews, and dishing out tasty features, Rubin tells the great stories of Hong Kong's dining scene.

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