The chef tells us why running your own business is like riding a rollercoaster

Last year, May Chow was named Asia’s Best Female Chef by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and was the recipient of the Local Champion Award two years in a row at the T. Dining Best Restaurants Awards for her three distinctly different establishments, Little Bao, Second Draft and Happy Paradise. Her restaurant concepts have proven to be extremely popular both locally and abroad, and there’s no doubt that May has a winning formula on her hands.

In our latest edition of the Tatler 10, where we pose ten questions to Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs about their businesses, May tells us why she never backs down from a challenge and how she rebounds from her mistakes. 

What does Hong Kong mean to you?

Hong Kong is my home and where I feel most grounded. My loved ones are here. It’s also the place where I’ve met and been surrounded by the most talented people in different fields so I feel grateful as I am constantly inspired and mentally energised by the fast pace and drive to succeed. 

See also: The Tatler 10: Victoria Tang-Owen

Summarise your business in one sentence.

With Little Bao, Second Draft and Happy Paradise, my goal is to make people happy through the food I make for them. 

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Some of my proudest accomplishments are from the smallest of things. It’s moments when I see Little Bao stickers on luggage at the airport or when I see people putting my stickers on their laptops and phones—or when I see a father and son wearing Little Bao t-shirts on the other side of the world. It’s remarkable what a Little Bao experience can mean to people. It shows how the experience can extend beyond the food.

What do you love most about running your own business?

Running a business is really similar to riding a rollercoaster. I realised that over time I can handle a lot of pressure to drive my own passion. I take full responsibility for my successes and failures and I find being able to learn and better my business through my failures to be quite an exhilarating experience. 

What advice can you offer budding entrepreneurs?

Hong Kong is part of the global economy now, and the most successful entrepreneurs think about their business 24/7. So, be willing to be married to your business.

See also: The Tatler 10: Natalie Chan

As an entrepreneur, what do you think sets you and your business apart from the competition?

We’ve created something original that is hard to replicate. It’s not just about the food but also the branding, lifestyle and how cohesive these components are to the overall concept. We constantly look for new inspiration to stay in the game.

Who inspires you and why? This can be one person or different people.

I admire entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Tony Robbins, David Chang and Nobu Matsuhisa. I’m also very lucky to be surrounded by some amazing people in Hong Kong. It’s important to have the right attitude and to override the challenges ahead. The people who fail are the ones that get beat down and are not able to bounce back. 

Looking back do you wish you had done anything differently?

No, not really. Thankfully, I’m still able to rebound from my mistakes and have learned greatly from them. I have become a much more mature person because of the mistakes I’ve made.

What's your end goal?

I hope to be able to continue to build restaurants globally and I’m open to new adventures, whether these are in television, books or education. I also strive to be a positive role model and to be more involved in social causes. 

What are your words to live by?

In the words of Robert Frost, “I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” 

See other Tatler 10 interviews with Kelly Lo, Betty Ng and Pearl Shek.

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