The Chinese chef talks about fusion cooking, spicy Szechwan and his fondest foodie memories.
Senior chef de partie, Anise
How long have you been in Dubai? Eight months.
Have you experienced any culture shock? I have in terms of language. Most of the time, when you’re working, you have all these nationalities, and it’s hard to communicate with all of them. You have to use a lot of body language.
How’s the Chinese food in Dubai? It’s different than what I get back home. You have different materials here, and it’s not always easy to get everything you need, so you have to maximise those materials you can get.
Chinese food is so popular here. It’s even found on the menu in Indian restaurants... This is because China and India are neighbours, and many Indian chefs have worked closely with Chinese chefs. I’ve been to many Chinese restaurants in Dubai and seen Indian chefs working in Chinese kitchens. But to speak frankly, they can’t approach the real point of Chinese food, they just copy it. Because of the popularity of Chinese food, people like to try it and then add it to their menus, and have it become a shining point in their restaurants.
Chinese food seems to really lend itself to fusion. In my time, I’ve had Chinese-Cuba, Chinese-soul, Chinese-French… Chinese food is the most famous in the world. A lot of people have been to China, enjoyed the food, and because they don’t have any authentic Chinese restaurants back home, brought it back. Then, they’ve prepared it to their own tastes.
There are so many different types of Chinese cuisine. Which do you specialise in? There are eight primary cuisines in China, and I’ve been dealing with all of them. I’m good at making Cantonese food, which comes from Bangkok and Hong Kong, and Szechwan food, which is a little spicy.
What is your fondest food memory? In China, we have the Chinese spring festival during the New Year. My father once cooked this special fish, and it made me really excited. I wanted to know how to make the fish, and what made it taste so good. This helped me to become a chef.
What was the last thing you ate? I haven’t eaten yet today.
What? But it’s four in the afternoon! I’ve been very busy. The last time I ate was last night, just something I cooked at home.
You’re hardcore. How is the food you cook at home different from the food you cook in the restaurant? It’s the same taste, but it’s simpler and easier, and I don’t worry about making it presentable. I like to cook light food for myself, because when I get back home, I’m usually pretty tired. I don’t get to spend enough time with myself.