As part of our series celebrating the vibrancy and community within Hong Kong’s dining scene, we spoke to several of the industry’s leading lights about why they love the city’s unique food culture. Here, Gregoire Michaud – founder and pastry chef extraordinaire behind bakery-café Bakehouse and wholesale bread and pastry suppliers Bread Elements—explains how Hong Kong produce helped him fall in love with vegetables all over again and why a Chai Wan roast meat joint encapsulates what he loves about the local food scene.
Tell us about one of your favourite Hong Kong food memories…
Arriving in Hong Kong 21 years ago, what struck me most was the vegetables here. Back home [in Switzerland] growing up around farming, I was accustomed to the usual suspects of carrots and cauliflower—so the world of diversity here was unreal!
But the diversity was only one side of the surprise; the way they were cooked—a quick high-temperature wok-fry for vibrant crisp greens—made me fall in love with vegetables all over again. Then there were all the different pickled and preserved fruit and vegetables here, which were so intense and mind-blowing!
A favourite of mine is preserved tangerine peel, which I often use in rye sourdough or brioche, as well as caramelised with local raw cane sugar to flavour crème brûlée. I also love preserved olive mustard vegetables, which work a treat in focaccia.
What are some of your favourite local ingredients to use?
Over the years, I began to dig even deeper into the world of local farming, hunting for the origins of all the amazing produce here. One of my fondest memories is visiting Zen Organic Farm and discovering so much local fruit and vegetables, grown by such wonderful people; imagine my surprise when they told me they had even built a wood-fired oven!
Ever since I started visiting Zen, their farmer’s mother gifts me lin go (sticky rice cake) and lo bak go (turnip cake) every year, which she makes herself using the farm’s ingredients—it has a very emotional meaning to me.
If you could only visit one restaurant in Hong Kong again, what would it be – and how does it sum up what you love about the city’s food scene?