Chef Jacky Yu adds modern zest to Chinese cuisine

Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:17am EDT
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By James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - Advertising executive turned celebrity chef Jacky Yu epitomizes the East-West spirit of his home city of Hong Kong.

Yu is known for his idiosyncratic dishes that draw on an array of Asian tastes to bring about a "contemporary Chinese" culinary style food.

Sometimes dubbed Hong Kong's answer to British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for his high-profile TV shows and cookbooks, Yu's Xi Yan group runs restaurants in Hong Kong and Singapore. He spoke to Reuters recently.

Q: How would you describe your cooking style?

A: "I tend to say I cook Asian food, rather than describing it as fusion cuisine. Sometimes people think that by simply mixing food from one place with another you end up with fusion, but it doesn't always work. My food has traditional Chinese elements with Western techniques. Every place that I travel to, I go to the local markets to see what ingredients they use, their cooking styles and when I get back home, I do a bit of research and use my own methods to cook. I've always cooked things my way and my style emerged from that, using ingredients from places like Japan, Korea, Vietnam and China."

Q: You used to work in advertising, what made you switch to a career as a chef?

A: "I had cooked for many years, but I was never a professional cook. But the things I cooked tended to be my own inventions. Initially my friends kept coming to my home for dinner and asked me to open a restaurant together. At the time I was in advertising and I thought working in restaurants would be too tough, but then in 1997, the stock market crash came and I wanted to change fields."

Q: You've been described as Hong Kong's answer to Jamie Oliver. What do you make of that?   Continued...