From YouTube to Food Hero
She started out in the performing arts, but her passion for cooking would just never burn out. And instead of taking her acting and dancing skills literally (she was a ballerina for 10 years), she realised her ability to communicate in front of an audience would combine well with her love for making good food. So Debbie Wong listened to her inner voice and started a cooking show, the popular “Debbie Wong’s Wok and Gong,” on YouTube, which her husband shoots and she edits. A year after she moved to Hong Kong she was awarded Food Hero 2015, which, she says, was only just the beginning of a life she can’t wait to explore.
Sassy note: Debbie Wong is featured on the exciting new talk show (the first of its kind in Hong Kong!) Off The Cuff with Nick D. Here’s the first episode:
So, Debbie, what are the latest food trends?
Overall I think people are going to be eating less meat. I feel that produce – veggies and fruit are going to be even stronger than ever.
Your specialty is comfort food. How is fresh produce comforting?
I always say it’s easy to cook vegetarian because there are so many different kinds of fruits and veggies, and possibilities. I’m vegetarian at home. I do enjoy eating meat, too, but only if it happens to be healthy. I love my veggies, so it just became a thing. I don’t cook meat at home.
How do you cook those as comfort food?
I go with curries, stew, soup, pastas an all those can be made veggie.
What do you do when you’re not cooking?
I’m Canadian, so I love being outside. I love hiking and I love the beach.
What are you go-to hiking spots?
It’s always different, but I’ve done the Dragon’s Back a million times because it has the best views. When I go to the beach, I love Sai Kung. I recently discovered a beach called Turtle Cove. It’s kind of hidden but it’s an official beach. It’s small and has a BBQ pit but it’s isolated.
What’s your go-to meal at home?
Probably a ratatouille – but I make it a main course. So, I make it hearty with big chunks of eggplant and tomatoes, peppers, and I add some sweet potatoes. I serve it over couscous or quinoa and then I put feta crumbled on top with olive oil and fresh herbs.
What do you do when you’re not cooking?
I like walking around. I like going to Sai Ying Pun and in the little alleyways and discovering things. I like the layers of Hong Kong. I love how there’s one store and then the next is totally unrelated.
What was your expectation of moving to Hong Kong and the reality when you got here?
I expected it to be more different, but I just slipped right in. It’s a global city in every sense of the word.
How did you come up with the name of your show?
I was cooking with a friend a long time ago. He was a roommate. And he just noticed that I loved to [cook]. And he said, “You should have a cooking show, and you should call it ‘Debbie Wong’s Wok and Gong.’” He just said it. And it stuck with me. His name was Scott Towsen, so Scott, if you’re out there, thank you! He was really awesome.
What do you want to do that you haven’t?
I want to produce food related content. I feel like my generation experiences food, cooking and cuisine in a very different way than my parents did. I gew up in Vancouver, a multi-cultural place, so I was exposed to a world of cusine at a young age.
How has winning Food Hero helped your career?
It’s given me a platform to spread my point of view. I had the YouTube show four years before Food Hero. After that, it has given me a much wider audience and allowed me to make a living doing what I love to do.
Where’s the furthest place away that someone has seen your show?
Sweden and places in Europe.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
I love Maison Libanaise. Its food has tons of veggies and flavours and textures. My go-to for comfort food is Italian, and I go to Carbone. I also love Posto Pubblico because its flavourful and punchy.
So, are you into fashion at all?
I love fashion. I adore fashion!
Do you have any fashion finds that you love?
It’s hard to find a single store that I love everything in. But, there’s a hidden mall in Prince Edward called The Allied Plaza. It’s a maze of little booths, and they sell fashion from Korea and Japan that are very affordable and stylish. I love looking there for no-brand finds.
So… what’s in your bag, Debbie?
I keep it pretty simple. I have the Innisfree no sebum mineral powder. This is my go-to for the no-shine. It’s so teeny weeny [so it fits in my bag]. It keeps you matte but light not cakey. I also have a Dior Lip Glow in Coral (I like orangey tones). And if I feel like putting lips on, I use Max Factor Maroon Dust, but it’s not maroon at all so it doesn’t really match the colour! My eyelash curler to perk up the eyes. And finally I use cooling eye drops.
Fans of Debbie Wong’s Wok and Gong will be happy to learn she’s shared one of her favourite recipes. Here is her Grilled Peach and Haloumi Salad (see video below):
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
Peaches: 1/4-1/2 peach per person
Haloumi: 4 rectangles 1/2 inch thick
4-5 handfuls arugula
1 shallot, finely sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 a red chili. minced
handful of fresh mint
3-4 tbsp oilve oil
regular oil (for grilling)
sugar (1 pinch for the dressing, and some to sprinkle on peaches)
salt and pepper
Follow Debbie Wong in Instagram: @ms.debbiewong
Feature image courtesy of Brent Calis
Photos courtesy of Debbie Wong’s Facebook page