Lau Yiu Fai
Chef at 欣圖軒 Yan Toh Heen
I was born in 1960, so I’m 52 now.
I first joined InterContinental Hong Kong in 1980 when the hotel first opened. I worked my way up the culinary ladder in the hotel’s Chinese Banqueting Kitchen. Then I was in the opening team when the hotel’s Cantonese restaurant first opened in 1984. I have been an Executive Chef of YAN TOH HEEN since 2001.
And I’ve been working as a cook for over 30 years.
First of all, I love to eat! Although there are no chefs in my family, I started cooking at 14 when I became an apprentice in a famous Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong.
I remember, when I was an apprentice, the head chef had such dignity and integrity. All of his junior chefs admired him so much. He really encouraged me to become a chef and was a great mentor.
In my work, every day is interesting for me, as I enjoy what I do.
I feel fortunate, since I was invited as a guest chef to several prestigious venues and events. In 2011, I was invited as one of Hong Kong’s Michelin star chefs to cook at an exclusive charity event at Asia House in London. The event was to benefit the “First Initiative” which helps to nurture young talent.
I was also a guest chef at the famous Imperial Hotel in Osako, Japan, and a guest chef at the InterContinental Yokohama in Japan.
It was fascinating to not only visit these areas, but to share my passion for Cantonese cuisine with a high profile clientele in the UK as well as in Japan.
My first choice of cuisine is the cuisine from Guangdong Province. This is the area near Hong Kong which is formerly known as Canton. Cantonese cuisine uses fresh ingredients and incorporates unique item from all over the world. While there is traditional Cantonese cuisine, I enjoy creating a contemporary Cantonese dishes in which I can be creative and innovative.
I am easy to satisfy. I am happy with a simple meal. However I do like to try different types of cuisine and cooking styles and methods as this helps to open my mind and become more creative. For inspiration, I like to try all types of cuisine.
When I was young (in my twenties), I enjoyed Thai Boxing. Now I enjoy doing tai chi and yoga.
I love travelling around the world. Seeing different places and experiencing different cultures, opens your mind. You learn more and find inspiration. Travelling the world helps me create new innovative dishes. In China, I have travelled a lot to all the different provinces. Each has a different cooking style. In Beijing, the food is heavier and oilier (due to the cold weather). In Sichuan, they use a lot of chili and the food is very spicy. In Cantonese cuisine, thanks to the long coastline, we use more seafood. I find that Cantonese cuisine offers more choices.
To the readers, I’d like to say: “To be a good cook, you cannot just follow the recipe. Besides learning practical cooking methods, you need to try (the recipe) several times in order to achieve success and to create your own cooking style and character.”
I’ve chosen the dish in the picture, because I am proud of it, since our Yan Toh Heen team worked together to create it. We showcased this dish at the HKTB (Hong Kong Tourism Board) “Best of the Best” Culinary Awards in Fall 2012 and the dish won a gold medal.
It’s easy to prepare this dish «Poached Lobster and Bird’s Nest in Egg White» at home, yet it is simple and elegant.
Yan Toh Heen
18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong (lower level)
Tel :852 2313 2323
Recipient of 1-Michelin Star, Yan Toh Heen is recognized as one of the world’s finest Chinese restaurants specializing in Cantonese cuisine. Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai uses refined Chinese cooking methods combined with the best ingredients and top quality fresh seasonal products. The restaurant features an extensive a la carte menu, plus set lunch and dinner options and special menus showcasing seasonal Cantonese specialties.