“I love Tokyo, but I miss Hong Kong every day,” says chef Daniel Calvert, who left the SAR in November 2020 to take up the position of executive chef at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, where he oversees the culinary offering including the hotel’s French restaurant Sézanne.
Calvert is no stranger to change. He arrived in Hong Kong in January 2016 after a two-year stint in Paris where he worked at Epicure at Le Bristol, prior to which he had spent five years in New York as the youngest sous chef at Per Se. Before that, he was in London, where he worked at L’Autre Pied, Pied à Terre, and The Ivy. “But Hong Kong is number one,” he says. “I just wish I could afford to live there. Hong Kong was a very special time and place for me. The food is amazing, the scene is amazing, the people are amazing—it was an amazing time.”
Calvert’s spell in Hong Kong was spent as head chef of celebrated French bistro Belon, which first appeared on the Tatler Dining 20 list of the best restaurants in Hong Kong in 2017. Later, it was awarded one Michelin star in the 2019 Guide and named on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list the same year. But for Calvert, it wasn’t the accolades and recognition that stood out for him from his time at Belon.
“The relationship we created and built with the guest was one of the most precious memories I have of being a chef in general—the guests that I would cook for, the friends I made, and the clientele I was looking forward to seeing weekly or two or three times a month. Some of them we would celebrate every birthday and anniversary with, some every Saturday night with. I miss all those people I spent so much time with and I miss cooking for them,” he says.
Those relationships between chef and guest are what he hopes to recreate at Sézanne. “We’re getting there, but it takes time,” says Calvert, though he reports that in the first eight months of opening, he already has guests who have visited six or seven times. This is testament to his culinary talent.
Outside the kitchen, Calvert has been enjoying the food in Tokyo. “Of course, the Japanese food and the sushi here are great, but you go to Sushi Shikon and The Araki in Hong Kong, and it’s also great,” he says. Mostly, it’s the Chinese food that he still has a hankering for. Here, he shares the restaurants and bars he misses most from his treasured time in Hong Kong.