During my trip to Hong Kong, I was invited to guest chef at the Kowloon Cricket Club (KCC) for one evening in The Restaurant, the KCC’s fine dining room. A month beforehand, I created a menu and liaised with the General Manager, Robert Blythe as to the availability of the ingredients. After several emails, we came up with something I thought would be well received by the club’s members.
A week before the dinner, I met with Executive Chef King Sing Yim and Grill Room Head Chef Kai Tak Tsang to finalize the menu and discuss how I envisioned it to come together.
On the night, I arrived three hours before service. I went through each of the dishes from preparing, cooking and plating with the staff so they could go through service without a hitch as I would be busy with the diners and not be able to be in the kitchen 100% of the time.
The menu consisted of a trio of amuses bouche — a salmon roulade with asparagus drizzled with a dill dressing, an olive tapenade on top of olive crostini and a Mediterranean-inspired “salsa” seasoned with sumac.
Since most of the diners were not familiar with sumac I had the task of explaining how prevalent it was here in southern California and how it is used quite a bit here.
The next course was heirloom tomatoes with burrata on rocket (arugula) leaves. At first I had suggested a pesto dressing to accompany but on the evening, I decided it would overpower the beautiful heirlooms freshly flown in from France and instead, we dressed it with a sprinkling of sea-salt and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
The heirlooms and burrata was a huge hit. The majority of diners had never experienced heirlooms and were blown away by the intensity and distinctive flavors each tomato produced. I know this sounds weird but we are so lucky to be blessed by the gorgeous produce so readily available to us.
I think what really blew me away was the fact that although all types of fruits are available in Hong Kong, and they all look vibrant and luscious, they possessed no taste nor the aromas of the fruit. It was something my son pointed out when a bowl of sliced peaches was put in front of him one day. He took a bite, looked at me and said “this tastes like nothing”. I had never noticed this before when I lived there.
The third course was a “palate cleanser” of gazpacho which I came up with off the top of my head. It was a tomato and avocado puree with a dollop of sour cream and lime juice.
There were three entrees to choose from including fish, beef and a vegetarian option. The beef dish is something I cook often at home. My son loves meat and cajun seasoning is great when you need to blacken a protein. I brought some cajun seasoning over for this purpose. Brussel sprouts with bacon is a side I make often — and is my son’s favorite — as well as garlic mashed potatoes.
The fish course was inspired by Piaggio On Wheels’ steamed chimichurri fish. I make this often at home using whatever white fish I have on hand. Here, sea bream is cooked en papillote and served with ribbon zucchini and carrots and drizzled with chimichurri. A wedge of lemon is baked alongside the fish lessening the acidity of fresh lemon for an added citrus appeal.
The vegetarian option was inspired by Soho Taco’s portabella mushroom taco. Chef Gabriel Zambrano was kind enough to supply me with the seasonings for me to bring along and I used it to create the portabella, red and yellow peppers entree. It was absolutely delicious and it was also my choice for dinner that evening.
Diners were lucky enough to be treated to a dessert trio — Fleur de Sel ganache chocolate cake, apple crisp served with vanilla ice cream in a chocolate cup, and chocolate pot de creme.
A five-course dinner meant a lot of stuffed stomachs at the end of the night and I had so much fun doing this even though I was exhausted by the time I made it home. Definitely a highly memorable experience.
Kowloon Cricket Club
10 Cox’s Road