Whether you’re looking to sharpen techniques, crib some new recipes or are just plain curious as to where chefs are eating when they’re not on the pass; these are the accounts which are guaranteed to satiate your appetite.
Any time you open up Instagram, you needn’t wait long for the platform’s algorithm to kick in and start feeding you hundreds of the world’s most popular hashtags (adjusted, of course, to your individual liking). These days — more so than ever, given the immobile state of things — food is a topic that has everybody transfixed. Of course, much of the hullabaloo can be chalked up to socially distanced souls looking for a self-improving activity (since the beginning of August, Instagram’s ‘#baking’ hashtag has been used over 26 million times) but as ever, there’s strong allure from noteworthy chefs themselves who are a huge part of foodie culture. In Hong Kong — one of the patron ‘food paradises’ of Asia — that goes triple.
In our latest Instagram round-up, we’ve prepared what we like to think of as a balanced menu: from established names to fiery upstarts and undeniable talents flying below the radar; here are 10 Hong Kong chefs bound to do more than merely feed your social media addiction.
Barry Quek (Return of Lemak)
The brains behind the excellent gone-too-soon Beet Restaurant, you’ll now find Quek behind the stove at Return of Lemak: a collaboration with Cô Thành’s Brian Woo that specialises in Singaporean hawker stalwarts like sotong youtiao and the (much vaunted) Peranakan-style laksa. The secret? Patiently simmered coconut broth and, as it turns out, a boatload of fresh blood cockles.
Best known as the “self-taught home chef” behind Test Kitchen’s 2019 Christmas dinner pop-up (and as a confidant of Eric Räty) Ho is a fastidious cook who brings a documentarian’s eye to every meal he uploads on Instagram. Content soars above the sort of fluff put out by generic foodies through a combination of visual fidelity and detail. See something mouthwatering? Chances are Ho has captioned it with the recipe.
Daniel Calvert (Belon)
Arguably Hong Kong’s posterboy for ‘Three Yellow’ chicken and impossibly radiant pithivier, Calvert has steered his award-winning restaurant Belon through good nights and tough days since its inception some four years ago. While it’s well-known he will be quitting the restaurant after August in order to pursue new opportunities in Tokyo, his account remains essential for those who love a good plating (supplemented by a healthy dose of the city’s best temaki).
David Lai (Neighborhood)
If certain Instagram accounts are to be believed, then the business of being an award-winning chef appears to boil down to photo-ops and an unending sea of large-format Burgundy. Not so for David Lai. The Neighborhood chef-owner spends an inordinate amount of time cooking and dining — sampling widely from a variety of culinary traditions. All of that is great when looking for a restaurant recommendation (Lai’s not afraid to share); but even better if you’re keen to broaden your knowledge.
Eric Räty (Arbor)
Like a lot of chefs who’ve been adversely affected by the government’s dine-in restrictions, Räty has had more time lately to take his process online and share it with a voracious, perpetually housebound audience. His account is wholesome to a fault: mostly populated with images of dishes-in-progress (which often wind up on the Arbor menu), family and esoteric native ingredients. On a side note, he’s even started making his own Edomae sushi — a certified feast for the eyes.
Guillaume Galliot (Caprice)
Devotees of classic French gastronomy would do well to follow Gaillot — the Chef de Cuisine behind Four Seasons Hong Kong’s multi-starred powerhouse, Caprice. As one would expect, Gaillot’s account is laden with images of the restaurant’s latest seasonal creations but the Loire Valley native also uses it to amplify the voices of other locally based culinary talents — many of whom you’ll definitely recognise.
Kenichi Fujimoto (Sushi Saito)
In an age of incessant ‘personal brand’ management, it’s becoming more and more difficult to get a handle on who chefs really are (with most digital personalities wilfully manipulated for the sake of public consumption). It’s a pleasure then to see that that’s not really Fujimoto-san’s bag. When the native Japanese chef isn’t plying his craft at coveted Tokyo import Sushi Saito (which, to be candid, is a rare occurrence) you’ll find him doing mad rail grinds alongside his son Gaku, both of whom are avid skateboarders.
Nothing if not sardonic, a quick glance at Cheung’s account reveals he has been cooking “elaborate private dinners at home” in response to the ongoing Coronavirus shutdown. That’s true in a manner of speaking, but further investigation makes it clear that what the 27-year-old CIA alumnus is doing more closely resembles weapons-grade fine dining. When it comes to developing new dishes, Cheung is unusually open about his process (in his words, they are often “a sh**wreck”); and that unrelenting honesty extends to his musings about other restaurants. Another reason to hammer that ‘follow’ button? It’s the primary means of reaching him in order to organise one of the most thoughtfully prepared meals you’ll have bar none in 2020.
Richard Ekkebus (Amber)
The ‘Flying Dutchman’ has been a fixture on social media feeds for many years now — winning critical plaudits for Amber Restaurant going all the way back to 2009. These days though, you’re more likely to find Ekkebus using his platform as a means of advancing conversation around urgent social issues, including plastic waste; ethical sourcing; and World Oceans Day.
Tiffany Lo (Jean May)
Given the mouthwatering visuals and complete lack of artifice surrounding her online persona, Tiff Lo’s personal Instagram might just be the ideal metaphor for the cooking you’ll find at her new Wan Chai restaurant Jean May. A disciple of Pierre Koffman, it’s unsurprising that Lo’s feed is filled with the sort of timeless and rustic bistro food that her Gascon mentor would no doubt approve of. That, and a healthy smattering of her own family’s home-style Cantonese dishes. Who could be mad at that combination?