BY XINYUAN XU
Typing the keywords “Chinese Chef” into the Google search engine, Chef Ken Hom is on the list. An encouraging smiling face walks into your eye. You will feel this is a chef that is easy to get close to.
Chef Ken Hom was born in Tucson, Arizona, and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His uncle, Paul Taught, who owns a restaurant in Chinatown, sprouted Ken Hom’s interest to cook when Ken Hom was 11. He started his career in the U.S. and developed in Britain, and other countries. Not only Chinese cookery, but Chef Ken Hom also studies different cookeries in different countries around the world, among them France, Korea, Japan, Hongkong, and Thailand. Hence, in addition to Chinese cuisine recipes, Chef Ken Hom also wrote Vietnamese, Singaporean, Cambodian, and other Asian recipes. He now mainly resides in France and Thailand. However, he has never stopped traveling and exploring the whole world.
I cannot believe I got a chance to interview a well-known chef who teaches people how to cook Chinese foods on the BBC’s Chinese Cookery series, who owns his own Wok brand–– Ken Hom Wok—and who owned a Michelin Star restaurant, MEE. I felt such an iconic chef would not accept a university student’s interview. I sent my questions to the PR firm who works with Chef Hom. Surprisingly, he answered them.
Starting from easy is how Chef Ken Hom arouses the audience’s interest: Begin with something really simple. Simple ingredients can become an intriguing dish.
Clicking into one of his teaching videos, from food preparation to cooking, Chef Hom stands in the BBC cooking television studio and patiently teaches how to make Chinese dishes. Not sophisticated food, but he makes each an artwork. Chef Hom says Chinese food is not only about good taste, but also about looking nice. Chunks of carrots, some spring onions and garlic, a red pepper, and a bag of Chow Mein noodles: together, the color and size of each element are cohesive. In the TV program, Explore China, a Culinary Adventure, he takes viewers to different cities in China to feel what nurtures people who live there.
What Chef Hom believes
Respecting food is one of Chef Hom’s doctrines. On one episode of his cooking TV program. There may be a piece of ginger leftover that could not be used in a dish. Chef Hom will save the peel and left for “when your daughter feels sick, using it in the soup,” since ginger is used in Chinese medicine to warm the human body. Don’t waste food is shown in a healthy and colorful way in Chef Hom’s hand.
Chef Ken Hom’s doctrine seems to be to base dishes on the freshness of the food itself. “I try to use organic ingredients to cook, and luckily, they are more available now,” he says when I ask a question about how he creates a dish. Chef Ken Hom does not mix tastes and flavors he is unfamiliar with. Chef said, “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel!”
Chef Hom cooks for himself
Cooking is a daily routine for Chef Ken Hom. It is a kind of love-life evidence and self-medication. For Chef, preparing a meal on his own “is rather therapeutical and relaxing.” When I ask if he has any rituals before cooking, he said he prepares uncomplicated and healthy food for himself. Chef Hom tends to eat fish, prawns, and seafood rather than red meat. Also, he believes in lots of green vegetables. It need not be complicated nor need extra preparations and rituals. Also, I asked if Chef Hom does the cleaning after cooking. He replied, “If I cook, I do not do any cleaning.” “It’s either-or. “
Chef’s Hom’s Kitchen
What does Chef’s kitchen look like? Stepping into Chef’s kitchen, there are a lot of windows, and the wok is positioned in the center. Nearby is Chef’ s cleaver and a lot of small sharp knives. The spices and seasonings are kept in cupboards and drawers. Beyond the spices every Chinese family has, Chef has oyster sauce, chili oil, and Hoisin sauce.
Chef Hom’s Ideal College Menu
As a student in a university that serves the best campus food in the U.S. I have a lot of Chinese food options available to me in our dining commons. However, I still find some stereotypical Chinese foods like Orange Chicken and Beef Broccoli. Chef recommends five authentic Chinese dishes that could be in college restaurants: Cantonese fried rice, Stir-fried spicy cucumbers, Beef or Pork with oyster sauce, Salt and pepper crispy beancurd (Tofu), and Crispy shrimp paste chicken.
Chef Hom Says Start from Easy
Chef suggests students start with easier dishes, like Bok Choy stir fry with garlic and pork stir fry with oyster sauce. These dishes “take minutes to prepare and cook and are real Chinese flavors,” he says. It’s true: I am Chinese, and these dishes are common, they sustain me with the nutrition that I need to grow up. I will never get bored eating them.
Chef brings a lot of people into the kitchen and arouses their interest in cooking by making it easy. Chef brings the Eastern culture to other land through food. “Start from easy” is how we learn everything at the beginning. Easy does not mean it tastes simple. Native and humble tastes are also good tastes. After traveling to different countries, Chef is “open to new tastes and flavors,” recommending this approach to help inform one’s personal cooking repertoire.”
Chef has never stopped his journey. We will see what he will bring to us next.