Mixologist Oscar Mena of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong watches on. This is his stage, but he is hosting Wada for 3 days.
On Level 102 at two-Michelin-starred Tin Lung Heen, chef Paul Lau is busy in the kitchen. He waltzes around in style and is polishing up his special menu for the night, while at the same time trying to make Japanese chef Shintaro Miyazaki, of one-Michelin-starred Azure 45 in Tokyo, feel at home in his kitchen.
The duo had been put together by The Ritz-Carlton team for three days from 22 to 24 November to show well-heeled diners in Hong Kong the best of Cantonese and French cuisines at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.
Chef Lau, a well-known figure in Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong, served up Tin Lung Heen’s beloved signatures like Barbecue Pork In Osmanthus Flower Honey, Chicken Soup With Fish Maw In Baby Coconut, Garoupa Fillet With Bird’s Nest and Lobster Bisque.
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He said: “All the prep work, rounding up the kitchen equipment and ingredients in English is slightly daunting, and the flight had to be delayed for five hours, but I came in to find everything so well taken care of by Chef Lau. This is The Ritz-Carlton spirit and the team here is awesome.”
He added: “Seeing how Chef Lau works in his kitchen is eye opening. This is, in fact, very stimulating because Cantonese food has such a long history and top chefs in Japan are now very interested in this cuisine, apart from watching French and Italian food.”
Earlier that same month, Lau, a veteran with more than 40 years of culinary experience, had a taste of being the guest chef in Singapore. From 1 to 4 November, he and his assistants had helped kick off the Stellar Dining Series at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. The series next went to Osaka, before moving on to Hong Kong and its final stop, Beijing, with each stop showcasing the different chefs from Michelin-starred establishments of The Ritz-Carlton hotels.
Bruce Ryde, The Ritz-Carlton’s Vice President, Luxury Brands and Brands Management, Marriott International Asia Pacific, shared: “Based on the success of the Food and Wine festival organised by individual Ritz-Carlton hotels over the last few years, we saw an opportunity to take our dining experiences to the next level. The Stellar Dining Series was born out of the idea that The Ritz-Carlton could set another standard in the fine-dining space — where culinary craftsmanship is paired with legendary service.”
Like a few other hotel brands which have rolled out similar dining programmes, The Ritz-Carlton aptly built on the positive brand image of the Michelin-starred restaurants within the group. Ryde’s team came up with a lovely narrative of likening these beautiful starred restaurant experiences to “rare cosmic events, which are awe-inspiring and celebrated”.
For the record, The Ritz-Carlton in Asia-Pacific now has nine Michelin stars under its belt awarded to eight restaurants across seven properties in the region.
The dining series can also be seen as another platform to showcase Ritz Carlton’s signature service standards, expressed creatively through epicurean artisanship, creative mixology and handcrafted gourmet dining experiences and masterclasses, delivered by The Ritz-Carlton’s culinary talents, to tie in to the brand’s vision of inspiring life’s most meaningful journeys.
Each destination offered a portal into the world of The Ritz-Carlton’s Michelin-starred restaurants and bars, where collaborative menus are created by the celebrated chefs from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Singapore and Guangzhou, and where guests can participate in exclusive masterclasses and satellite workshops.
When the Stellar Dining Series kicked off at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore at the start of November, guests in Singapore enjoyed a six-hands collaboration that offered a harmony of the best Cantonese dishes from chef Lau of Michelin-starred Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong; chef Gordon Guo of Lai Heen at The Ritz- Carlton, Guangzhou; and chef Cheung Siu Kong of the Michelin-starred Summer Pavilion in The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. Celebrated patissier Richard Long from Hong Kong also came up with a visually stunning afternoon tea, while mixologist Mena concocted a series of cosmic cocktails.
There was also a sensational tempura course featuring seasonal ingredients by chef Kenji Fujimoto of Tempura Mizuki at The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto and chef Takeshi Fukana at The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka. Additionally, chef Cheung of Summer Pavilion from The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore tempted Japanese diners with authentic Cantonese cuisine. There was also a one-of-a-kind chocolate masterclass and cocktail workshop.
A logistics nightmare for the hotel group, these gastronomic journeys relied on the participating hotels’ full support, including seconding chefs to sister hotels, hosting media amidst the festive season and timing the events so as to capture the most number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the region. The series also took into account that Lai Heen of The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou has a newly minted Michelin star, which was awarded in the inaugural MICHELIN Guide Guangzhou in late June. The series got off with a rousing start and all the planned events were quickly sold out. Besides the fine-dining experiences enjoyed by guests, the chefs also reaped their own rewards in terms of inspiration.
He felt that the Stellar Dining Series is helpful in elevating the stature of The Ritz-Carlton hotels and their commitment to crafting unforgettable dining experiences. In addition, it showcases restaurants and chef talents within the group to a wider geographical audience.
And whilst being in another’s kitchen in a new environment can be challenging, chef Lau said the plus point was gleaning new ideas from working alongside his counterparts. “These exchanges within the group also help open up the mind, challenging chefs to push boundaries and do great food.”