Just because restaurants were closed for dine-in last month, doesn’t mean Hong Kong’s one percenters were forced to slave over a stove for dinner. Trust the Tatler community to find a way to bring their favourite fine dining feasts into the comfort of their Peak, Repulse Bay and Stanley mansions and prevent the pandemic getting in the way of restaurant-grade gastronomy.
At-home luxury catering is on the rise—just look at Eleanor Lam, who flooded her Instagram feed with pictures of decadent meals prepared by the Ocean Park Marriott hotel team. Or Feiping Chang, who had the chefs from Sushi Saito at the Four Seasons hotel prepare an omakase dining experience in her kitchen.
When money is no object, hiring the very best in the business is easy as pie. “I cater for a lot of high-profile Hong Kong socialites, business executives and singers. Some are VIP clients from previous restaurants I’ve worked at,” says chef Leonard Cheung, formerly of Blue Supreme and 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana. When your reputation as a restaurant chef precedes you, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Take chef Nicholas Chew, co-founder of private catering company Guerrilla Lab, who reports he is booking private clients up to three times a week.
For those with well-equipped kitchens, menus need be no less elaborate than in restaurants. “I’ve cooked ortolan [the near extinct songbird, controversially consumed whole, bones included, behind a napkin—a dish that is banned in most western countries], lamb wellingtons, a six-course winter truffle dinner where every guest consumed at least 40 grams of truffle each. I’ve even been requested to cook a large pigeon pie from the Victorian era,” says Cheung. And there are no signs of scrimping: in July, Cheung prepared a HK$2,200 per head meal of extra-large langoustines and M7 wagyu, washed down with fine wines from Montrachet, Corton-Charlemagne and Screaming Eagle.
Chew has been party to some similarly glittering settings, having pulled off a 10-course tasting meal on a luxury yacht to the tune of HK$20,000, and staged an intimate picnic on a client’s private island that the group reached by helicopter.
For private chefs like Cheung and Chew, cooking is the easy part; it’s the other variables that can cause a headache. Factors like clients’ children causing a ruckus in the kitchen and managing dietary allergies and restrictions prove more challenging. “The last party I catered had 14 diners, seven of whom were vegan. That’s already two separate menus,” says Cheung, who, in addition to private catering, hosts private dining experiences in his own home where, luckily, he has complete control over the menu.