In this city, a diploma from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is considered very valuable – but not in the eyes of Alice Wong.
An outstanding student since her childhood, Wong had never let her parents down as far as her school grades were concerned.
Deep inside, however, she was a rebellious girl who wanted to chase her dreams, instead of being trapped by social conventions.
That’s why after only a year and a half at HKUST, where she was taking up business administration, Wong dropped out of school.
She said she wanted to study in Europe and find a career path that was really suitable for her.
As to be expected, her parents were shocked. In anger, her father kicked her out of the house and stopped giving her money.
But Wong stood by her decision. She rented a small place and worked as a part-time bartender to save enough money to be able to go to Europe.
She realized nothing is more important than doing the things she likes and being a chef is what she is really interested in.
Eventually, she finished a course in hotel management and traveled to France, where she worked as a chef of French cuisine at a restaurant with one Michelin star.
Later she returned to Hong Kong and worked for a French restaurant before she quit two years later and turned freelance.
In an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Wong said she left because the owner was focused on making money and did not care about the ingredients and taste, two things she values most.
She said she wants to specialize in French cuisine but not the common and expensive ones preferred by most Hongkongers.
Rather, she would like to offer traditional French dishes and those that are on the brink of vanishing forever.
In particular, she prefers French home-cooked dishes with specific regional characteristics.
She cites pig’s trotters from Lyon, Chou Farci or baked stuffed cabbage from Auvergne, and Aspic from Burgundy.
She had collected the recipes for these dishes while traveling all around France as a student.
Wong said some of her customers couldn’t believe she is French cuisine chef based on her looks, but she really doesn’t mind.
What’s important is that she never compromises on the quality of the dishes she makes, even though the general attitude in Hong Kong toward food is “the more expensive a dish is, the better the quality”.
She will continue to cook food the way it should be cooked, using only the freshest meat, vegetables and ingredients, without thinking about whether the customers will like the dishes or not.
[Chinese version 中文版]
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 5
Translation by Taka Liu
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