Sassy chats with the Hong Kong Culinary Director of Amber
Amber, the highest-ranking Hong Kong restaurant to be named in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, came in at an impressive number 24. We were able chat with the two Michelin star restaurant’s own Chef Richard Ekkebus, who was kind enough to share three of his personal recipes, and to let us know who wears the chef hat at home (hint: it’s not him!). Dutch born and internationally trained, he shares his love for good food, wine, and, his Harley-Davidson.
What are the latest food trends?
I do not follow trends, to be honest. But, what becomes more important for us and what drives us at the moment is to be a responsible operator: How do you operate? What is your carbon foot print (and how do you reduce it)? How do you manage your wastage levels? Do you use plastic? What type of paper do you use (is it FSC)? What do you give in return to your community?
Where do you eat when you’re not working?
At home, as my wife is a fantastic cook and I love to eat with my family and friends. I am, in general, the sommelier and rarely cook at home. But my magnum lunches are sought after.
What are some of your favourite places to go in Hong Kong?
I ride a bike (Sassy note: he has a Harley-Davidson!) and love to ride the coastal roads in HK when it is not too busy (avoid weekends!). I love to walk trails, [and there are] many options to walk great distances in HK’s green hillsides.
What’s your go-to meal at home?
We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables at home, most of them organic.
Do you like to cook even when you’re not working?
As stated above I rarely do and if I do, I always give my wife a look like, “Do not get used to this!” But when I cook at home I love to cook a nice ratatouille, roasted chicken, cooked mussels, a whole fish cooked in salt, or a nice veal blanquette or boeuf bourguignon. We always have a nice Bellota ham on the bone in our home, and [fine] cheese when we do not want to cook but want to eat simple with a nice bottle of wine. To be honest my wife hates me when I cook as I make a lot of dishes dirty…
When did you first know you wanted to become a chef?
When I was studying engineering – and whilst doing a weekend job as a kitchen porter – I felt truly in love with this job and have never looked back.
Do you have an easy recipe you could share?
These are my go-to recipes.
How do you relax?
I am a master in doing nothing if I can. I love to stay at home. In the morning I swim some laps and exercise, and then I play my vinyl records all afternoon whilst reading a book. Around 16:00, we open a fantastic bottle of wine, a magnum by preference as one bottle is never enough, and we have a great family meal.
What are your favourite summer ingredients?
Strawberries, preferably from Fukuoka called Amao. I can eat them all day.
Where do you like to be most?
I am a very lucky person to have found a job that I am passionate about, so most of my time I spend working. I leave home at 7:15 am on my Harley before the crazy HK traffic starts and try to go the long route (via Pok Fu Lam) from South Island to Central. That moment is very special, as it is very relaxing yet it is also exciting to ride a big Harley through HK. I finish around 23:00 and, again, get excited to drive back home. But, in general, I take the short route through the tunnel.
At home I love to make a great green tea. We have loads of tea in particular, Oolongs and Japanese green teas. We watch an episode on TV of whatever I follow and, currently, that is: Designated Survivor, (Season Two), Fargo, and Season Five of The Americans. I watch one episode and go to sleep.
Amber, 15 Queens Road Central, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong, www.amberhongkong.com
CLICK HERE to see Chef Ekkebus’ recipes for Strawberries and Hibiscus, Line Caught Sea Bass in Salt, and Beer Cooked Mussels!
Photos courtesy of Amber