Chef at Charlie Brown Café
My name is Caesar Lee. I’m a Chef at Charlie Brown Café. And although it might seem that Charlie Brown is some historical figure, the story is much more interesting than that. Do you remember cartoon dog Snoopy? The name of its owner is Charlie. And no, we don’t serve food for pets, but the real American one instead. Here in Hong Kong.
I was born in China, in 1960. I was a simple Chinese boy, who started working before having his head screwed on the right way. I was around 13-14 years old, and I had just finished primary school. Of course, I couldn’t choose work by myself, and I couldn’t go to HR agency either. Can you imagine a 13-year-old child wearing suit and bearing folder with documents? It’s a figure of speech, of course, but this was my mother who chose work for me.
A good friend of my brother was a chef in a hotel and my mother suggested that I should work there. Why? It’s all very simple: work in the kitchen would at least guarantee that I would be fed. And it’s already some benefit.
Yes, that was what we were dreaming about those days. It’s now that we need ‘self-actualization’, ‘career development’ and ‘high salary’. And at those times I was happy with tasty soup given by a chef. And, of course, I could find some advantages of my work by myself.
I started working as a kitchen helper doing anything and everything that they could throw at me. It was really hard work, to be honest! Do I appreciate it now, and do I have self-respect for getting through that small hell? I think you know the answer.
And what is more important than all those challenges — this was when I started admiring chef’s work and the way how different dishes were cooked. I was such a small person in the kitchen, and he was so tall. It was always interesting for me to watch him out of the corner of my eye, while cleaning kitchen stove.
I bought my first set of cook book in 1974, 3 months after I started my work. I also started learning English and asked chefs questions related to the art of cooking. And not only about how to chop carrots, but about more comprehensive things.
I became self-motivated and made up my mind that I would become a successful chef. I’ve been keeping it up for the past 40 years.
My favourite dish is Caesar salad. Funny coincidence, isn’t it? My name is Caesar and I like Caesar salad. The fact is that one of these things is a lie. My real name will remain a secret, but I’ll tell you a story of how I became Caesar.
Before I started working in the kitchen, I had found out about Caesar salad and how it was prepared in a wagon in front of the customers. The mixing motion when preparing the salad led to an insider slang that resembled «hitting Caesar». It sounded especially funny in my language, all my co-workers started to laugh at me as a result of this. This is how I became Caesar. It was the most interesting experience in my career.
By the way, I also like good steaks. And I dislike blue cheese! The smell is terrible. Yes, I know millions of people like it, but I’m not one of them. I prefer a burger instead.
When I have some free time, I love working out. I’ve played many different kind of sport: tennis, racquetball, soccer, canoeing, jogging etc. I changed racquet for an oar, then put it away and started running! I love sport, but now as a man of my age I more often play less active games. But I never miss an opportunity to train my brain. I play mahjong, it’s a great thing!
I love to travel and still take vacations with my family regularly. We spend great time together!
Of course, during our trips I not only take pictures of places of interest and eat local food, but also try to learn about cuisine of the country or region and how other chefs prepare their food. This is a good way to keep learning. It’s not enough to read books, it’s important to practice.
I have a special message for your readers. Everyone likes to cook now. You just have to look into your smartphone or to google «culinary blog» and you can get lost for 3 hours at least, completely forgetting about your iron, plans for the evening and a hungry cat. But it’s important not to just follow a recipe, but to cook with you heart! Treat different ingredients alive in order to create perfect dishes. And nothing is perfect without love!
The dish in the photo is our mini burger platter. As you might have already guessed, it’s our signature dish. It contains burgers with beef and chicken. And after you understand which one you prefer, you can order it in a maxi form, in a standard one to be precise.
Charlie Brown Café
G/F-1/F, Kok Pah Mansion, 58-60 Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsuil, Hong Kong
Charlie Brown Café is a unique café with American food in Singapore, decorated with lovely Peanuts characters. It’s a cosy family place with tasty cuisine and unique approach to customer service. Atmosphere of childish openness and gaiety wraps every guest with a special form of happiness – the one which is created by imagination. And one more thing: if you’re a Snoopy fan than you should definitely visit this place!