Chef and restaurateur Ken Hom talks to Katherine Price about why Andrew Wong is his ‘one to watch’, how post-Brexit trade could strengthen the relationship between the UK and China, and his advice to young chefs today
What does it mean to you to have received the lifetime achievement award from the Hurun Report recently for contribution to the UK-China relationship?
A great deal because it involves two of the loves of my life: Great Britain and China. I am humbled to be honoured as being part of bringing these two great countries together through food.
How do you think Brexit will affect the UK’s relationship with China?
It may bring the two countries together as trade agreements are now more important than ever. China would be a natural market for good British food products such as Maldon sea salt.
How do you think Chinese food has developed in the UK in terms of how it is perceived and understood, and its popularity today?
Chinese food has evolved over the last 40 years in the UK. For example, you have chef Andrew Wong in London at A. Wong making some of the best modern Chinese food in Britain and it is fused with British sensibility.
What do you think of the Asian food scene in London?
Pretty amazing. Some of the best in Europe, and I do travel a lot. When I am in London, I try to eat in a different Asian restaurant, new or not, every time I am here. Hunan, Royal China, China Tang and Kai are restaurants which are consistently good. You can see, feel and taste the respect the chefs have for the ingredients of the dishes they produce.
You recently spoke at the Oxford Cultural Collective about the future of China towns – do they have a future in increasingly global cities like London?
China towns are maturing and will continue as China emerges as a major player in the world. China towns are a beacon and lighthouse for China, highlighting and sharing its long history and culture with the world.
Are there any young Asian chefs in the UK that you think are doing great things right now?
Chef Andrew Wong is certainly among the very best. He is very talented, ‘one to watch’ as they say. He is opening a new restaurant in the City and I will be trying it out on a next trip.
What is your advice to young chefs looking to make their mark in the industry today?
Follow your palate. Eat, eat, eat… that is how you learn about food.
What are your plans for the future?
I have a couple of TV series coming up and would love to do a sequel to my China series with Ching He Huang, as well as some books.
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