An Interview with S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Semi-finalists Eric Räty, Noël Berard and Zack Fong

An Interview with S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Semi-finalists Eric Räty, Noël Berard and Zack Fong

The three talented young chefs will compete in the North-East Asia regional final of the global culinary competition

Brought to you by:  
Foodie  Foodie Your Guide to Good Taste  on 19 Oct '17

On 6 November 2017 in Taiwan, 10 superstar young chefs from Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan will come head to head for the North-East Asia regional final of the global culinary competition S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018. During the event, each chef will present their signature dish for the competition to an esteemed chef jury panel made up of André Chiang, Umberto Bombana, Jason Tan, Margarita Forés and Ray Adriansyah, with the hope of securing a spot in the Grand Final of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 in June of next year.

Read more: S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018: NE Asia

Image title
Chef Eric Räty’s glazed veal sweetbread, langoustine ”XO“, crisped chicken skin, lemon thyme

Image title
Chef Noël Berard’s Hong Kongese bouillabaisse, Tai O seafood and XO condiments

Image title
Chef Zack Fong’s ikan bakar

From Hong Kong, Eric Räty, Chef de Cuisine at Café Gray Deluxe at The Upper House, will present his dish glazed veal sweetbread, langoustine “XO”, crisped chicken skin, lemon thyme, while Noël Berard, Chef de Cuisine at The Ocean, will be looking to impress with his creation Hong Kongese bouillabaisse, Tai O seafood and XO condiments. From Macau, Zack Fong, Demi Chef de Partie at Conrad Macao, Sands Cotai Central, will showcase ikan bakar (Malaysian grilled fish).

We caught up with chefs Eric, Noël and Zack to find out more about what makes them tick and what they hope to achieve during S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018.

During the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 North-East Asia semi-final, I hope to...

Eric: Broaden my horizons and gain exposure. I am excited to showcase my culinary style and grow as a chef. And, of course, meet and network with other young chefs!

Noël: Push myself further and learn as much as I can. I am really honoured to be able to represent Hong Kong and to have the chance to cook for internationally renowned chefs.

Zack: Grow as a chef and hopefully make it through to the Grand Final!

I applied to S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 because...

Eric: It offers a unique opportunity to challenge myself as a chef and test my abilities.

Noël: It is the most famous competition worldwide for young chefs under 30 years old and a real challenge.

Zack: I want to showcase my potential as a chef and learn from distinguished chefs from across the world.

Describe your culinary style in three words.

Eric: Passionate, adventurous, elaborate.

Noël: Technical, French, international.

Zack: Full-flavoured, historic, seasonal.

My role model in the kitchen is...  

Eric: Chef Gray Kunz, as well as my mentors, Chef Hans Välimäki and Chef Sven Elverfeld.

Noël: A chef who creates quality dishes, teaches his/her the team to explore new techniques and new dishes, as well as advocating for the best quality service and plating.

Zack: My mentor chef, Emmanuel Soulière. He is sharp, knowledgeable and efficient. I always look for opportunities to learn from him and a lot of my cooking techniques have been influenced by him.

When creating my signature dish for S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018, I was inspired by...

Eric: My first impressions of Hong Kong. I still remember the very first meal I had in Hong Kong – the strong flavours stayed with me long after I returned to Helsinki and were the inspiration behind my signature dish.

Noël: My childhood memories of France. I wanted to introduce this traditional French dish to Hong Kong but reinterpret it with a Hong Kong twist.

Zack: Chef André Chiang. I read his book Octaphilosophy and was really impressed by his invention of kaya toast. Then, one day when I was in Malaysia eating my favorite traditional dish – ikan bakar – I was inspired to reinvent it by using Western culinary techniques, just like Chef Chiang did with kaya toast!

The best moment of my culinary career so far has been...

Eric: Definitely the opportunity to work in Asia!

Noël: Being part of the team who earned two Michelin stars for the restaurant Domaine Les Crayères in France.

Zack: Being chosen as a S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 semi-finalist!

The most challenging moment of my culinary career so far has been...

Eric: Every day! Every day is a new challenge for me, and I’m always looking for ways to improve in the kitchen.

Noël: When I had just arrived in Hong Kong and was starting to learn a new language (English). It was challenging but fun adapting to a new environment and a new team all at once.

Zack: While I was preparing for my master’s degree while still working full time in the kitchen.

I love the Hong Kong culinary scene because...

Eric: There are always new, top-quality foods, chefs and restaurants to discover. Not to mention the endless passion of Hong Kong foodies!

Noël: You can find world-class gastronomy here of all kinds such as Japanese, Cantonese, French and many more… Also, many famous chefs such as Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Alvin Leung and Benallal Akrame (just to name a few) choose to open restaurants here. The food scene in this dynamic city is so fast-paced and there is always something new to try.

Zack: Hong Kong is a fast-paced city with a diverse and highly developed culinary scene and offers a fantastic opportunity to meet chefs from all over the world. For example, I really appreciate the chance to meet Eric and Noël, who come from Finland and France respectively.

If I could cook for anyone, it would be...

Eric: Anyone who respects and loves food and who is happy to let the chef who is cooking for them use their imagination to present something new.

Noël: My grandmother, whom I never had the chance to meet. I am sure she could have taught me so much about food and cooking.

Zack: The jury members of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition.

For the latest news on S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018, visit or, the online magazine for food enthusiasts proudly endorsed by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna.

Don't forget to check out S.Pellegrino’s Facebook and Instagram pages or search the hashtag #SPYoungChef to join the conversation.



Your Guide to Good Taste

Foodie is here for all Hong Kong food related news and events
Read foodie magazine online or
Write for your foodie community!

share the ♥