Chef Paul Lau of Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz-Carlton on Preserving Cantonese Culinary Heritage

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With more than 40 years of experience, Chef Paul Lau Ping Lui of Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz-Carlton, is widely considered one of the top Cantonese chefs in Hong Kong, a true master of the region’s gastronomic traditions.

Originally from Guangzhou, Lau has worked in some of the most prestigious hotels and kitchens of Asia. At two-Michelin-star Tin Lung Heen, the chef leads a brigade of 24 cooks and celebrates Cantonese classic with impeccable elegance.

We talked to Lau about traditional cooking, preserving Cantonese heritage and teaching the new generations.

Tin Lung Heen
Double-boiled chicken soup with fish maw in baby coconut
How does it feel to have been awarded two Michelin Stars for the past nine years?

I am very honoured and still very excited about retaining two stars at Tin Lung Heen for such a long time. It’s also a daily reminder for me and my team to be very diligent and also to be very detail-oriented in our work.

How has the past year been? How have you been coping with the challenges brought by the pandemic?

My team and I have been trying our best to be hygienic and be very careful to help keeping the hotel and the restaurant safe. We also launched a lot of new recipes and menus that have lowered the prices to attract customers back to the restaurant. I think that, regardless of the difficult situation, I feel the responsibility to keep our standards very high. We need to pay even more attention in our daily practices.

Tin Lung Heen
Chef Paul Lau Ping Lui, Culinary Director of Tin Lung Heen

What is your philosophy in the Kitchen?

Using the best ingredients from around the world, minimalistic plating and traditional Cantonese techniques are at the core of my cuisine.

How do you keep classic Cantonese dishes relevant?

In order to preserve Cantonese cuisine and its heritage, as the pool of available ingredients is shrinking like bear paw or elephant trunk for example, I try to focus on techniques rather than produce to keep the traditions alive.

What do you think of fusion cuisine?

Fusion works for some chefs, especially if customers loved their dishes. I personally never thought of doing a fusion cuisine because I really want to stick to my Cantonese heritage, without compromising.

Tin Lung Heen
Steamed crab claw with egg white in Hua Diao wine

How did you become a chef?

Being a chef was never a hobby. I didn’t have many other choices, when I came to Hong Kong at the age of 14. I’ve been doing this for more than 40 years driven by passion. I would never want to lose what I learnt and accomplished.

When you train young chefs here at the restaurant, what is your method?

If I train 10 chefs, for example, only one or two will become successful in the end. My way of teaching is that I try to pay a lot of attention to what the chef’s like and do. I want them to spend time understanding which area is their specialty to understand what they could excel at. If I think that one of the students has a lot of talent that he/she can potentially become a chef de cuisine, I make sure they will rotate around the kitchen to try everything and be ready for it. Everyone’s mind is different.

Is there anything new on your menu that you are particularly proud of?

We have a new set menu featuring Japanese geoduck and baby winter melon soup, it’s seasonal.

Tin Lung Heen, The The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre (ICC), 1 Austin Rd W, West Kowloon, +852 2263 2270

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