Hong Kong and Macau Michelin 2023 【Interview with Chefs】

As an annual event in the catering industry, the Hong Kong and Macau Michelin has just announced the results and issued several awards. Three awards have been added this year, the Michelin Guide Sommelier Award, the Michelin Guide Service Award, and the Michelin Guide Young Chef Award, recognizing the chefs with outstanding talent and potential in the food and beverage industry.

The awards ceremony was held at the Grand Lisboa Hotel in Macau. This was the first time that an actual awards ceremony was hosted after the pandemic. The scene was lively as famous chefs from various restaurants and people from the industry gathered together. The conference also specifically arranged a free photo booth at the venue for the guests to take a photo souvenir. At the beginning of the ceremony, Gwendal Poullennec, the International Director of the "Michelin Guide", said in his speech: "Our judges are very pleased to find that many established restaurants in Hong Kong have been striving for improvement and excellence. No matter what dishes they serve, they have shown a dedication to the quality of ingredients and cooking methods. As for Macau, restaurants continue to present the uniqueness of regional cuisine with exquisite cooking skills and outstanding ingredients." After the awards ceremony, we invited the winners of the three special awards, as well as the chef who has just been promoted to a three-star restaurant, to be interviewed.

【Michelin Guide Sommelier Award Jacky Luk -  Forum Restaurant

The Michelin Guide Sommelier Award, presented by Perrier Joüet, aims to honor sommeliers who possess skill, knowledge, passion, and talent. Jacky Luk, the chief sommelier of the three-star restaurant Forum Restaurant, has been in the industry for nearly 20 years and has rich experience. He expressed his happiness for this award, and believed that this award was not only awarded to him, but also his entire team. Jacky: "First of all, we are not winemakers or chefs. We are just a bridge between the two, allowing guests to feel the cooperation in all aspects, so that they can have the most pleasant experience in our restaurant and enjoy a combination of wine and food".

Therefore, as a sommelier, Jacky is not only familiar with all kinds of wines, but also has a good understanding of the food in the restaurant, so that he can create surprises in pairing. And, he said: "Actually, in addition to researching wine and food, we also need to serve our guests, and make them happy. This is the most important thing we have to do." Even though he won the award, Jacky is not stopping there. After winning the award, he immediately said that the coming year he aims to obtain the professional qualification of Master Sommelier: "It is relatively difficult, but I will continue to work hard."

【Michelin Guide Service Award Kit Li- Sichuan Moon

The Michelin Guide Service Award aims to recognize and encourage professionals who are outstanding in the industry and possess superb service skills, who enrich the dining experience for guests through their services. Kit Li, the director of the two-star restaurant Sichuan Moon, has been working since the restaurant opened. In her mind, the best service is to meet the needs of customers: "I think that if you want customers to be satisfied, it is best to have a more quiet, personalized service. That is, the customer never tells what he wants, but you have already done it, even if you have done everything well, even if you do not say it, you can let the customer feel it.”

She believes that if she maintains the same enthusiasm for her work, restaurant, and customers, she can maintain the quality of service. Even when encountering customers with bad attitude or difficult to deal with, Kit will maintain her professional attitude: "Every guest has a different personality, and they experienced something that we don't know at that moment, and it is inevitable that some guests will dine or enter our venue with negative emotions. But we believe that these guests did not come here deliberately to challenge or embarrass you, maybe he couldn't adjust himself at that time. In that case, we will stand in his position by trying to understand what happened to him, and help him ease his emotions”. Kit was not only pleasantly surprised by the award, but it also inspired her to continue working hard in this industry.

【Michelin Guide Young Chef Award Steve Lee - Hansik Goo

The Michelin Guide Young Chef Award presented by AIA aims to recognize young chefs with outstanding talent and potential among Michelin-listed restaurants. The chef Steve Lee of the one-star restaurant Hansik Goo is only 31 years old is a new star with a bright future. It turned out that he was not interested in the dishes of his home country (Korea) at first, so the first thing he delved into when he entered the industry was Western food. Being able to become the Young Chef winner, Steve expressed excitement and surprise. When summing up his winning method, he said humbly: "I would say that I have been working hard. I will always think about how to improve myself, never give up, and continue to find better ways to move forward."

In particular, Steve would like to thank his boss, company and team: “Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am at this moment; and without my seniors, I wouldn’t be here. Seniors set a good example and standard, so I Just follow them, I am really grateful for the leadership of the seniors, and I hope that other young chefs can find their motivation to move forward.” There are often voices in the industry that express one of the biggest problems they are currently facing. One is that the work in the kitchen is too hard, and it is difficult to attract young people to join the industry. Steve agrees with this, and he encourages all aspiring young colleagues to try to stay in the same restaurant for at least half a year, so that they can see what the chefs are actually doing and can emulate in the future. "Staying for half a year is also a respect for the chefs who work together."

【Promoted to three-star restaurant Ta Vie

Promoted from a two-star restaurant to a three-star restaurant, Ta Vie chef Hideaki Sato came to the stage to accept the award, and cheers erupted from the audience. Sato Hideaki said: "I am surprised that we won the award, and I am also surprised that I am not very happy, because I don't believe it is true, it is like having a dream." The 3-Star dream did indeed come true, and Sato Hideaki thanked everyone on behalf of the restaurant supporting people, including partners, suppliers, teams, and public relations, etc. He is also particularly grateful to his mentor for his constant support and teaching.

Affected by the epidemic, last year was the most difficult time for the catering industry, but it was also a time for Ta Vie to strive for improvement: "Last year, Hong Kong banned dine-in for a period of time. During that period, I spent a lot of time researching the new menu. I also stayed in the kitchen, so I created a lot of new dishes, which enabled us to go to the next level this year." After being recognized for our hard work and promoted to 3-Stars, Sato Hideaki said: "Although we won this award, we are still us, and we will continue to pursue improvement.”

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