People 5 minutes 19 June 2021

Father's Day: MICHELIN Guide Chef Dads And Their Newborns

This Father's Day, we chat with MICHELIN Guide chef dads about fatherhood, work-family balance and the dish they want their kids to remember them for.

Hong Kong Father's Day chef

Being a father in an industry that demands long working hours can be a tough balancing act. When the day is over and the apron comes off, chef dads swap their toque blanche for another hat—one that’s just as challenging, if not more rewarding.

Much like running the kitchen, having a newborn in the family is a daily round-the-clock commitment. How do these chef dads make it work? This Father’s Day, we speak to Hong Kong’s MICHELIN Guide chefs, who just welcomed new additions to the family, about being a dad and bonding with their newborns over food.

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Agustin Balbi

Chef-founder of Ando, One MICHELIN Star

Tell us about your children.

I have two children, Lucas who is four years old about to turn five and Emika who is one year old. They both love food immensely, especially Lucas—he’s developed an amazing palate. He eats like a 40 years old person, for example food like natto, blue cheese, offals, etc.
Emika is following the same food steps. Maybe it is because of my wife, she loves to feed them different kinds of food and we are so lucky that they eat everything, not picky at all.
Both of them are super funny and will go the extra mile to make everyone laugh when they are in the room.

What are your favourite food moment(s) with your children?

We love to spend time around the table with great food. These days, my favourite food moments are usually Saturdays mornings when Lucas comes with me to Ando so we get to spend time together in the kitchen.
Usually, on a normal day, I say to my wife and son: “See you tomorrow” at 9am before I leave for the restaurant. We spend long hours in the kitchen, so it’s not likely for me to see them until the next morning. Saturday is when he doesn't have to go to school, so we both enjoy “cooking” together at the restaurant. He loves it and tells all his friends about it and shows them his skills at picking parsley!

What are some life lessons/values you’d like to pass on to your children?
I think one of the most important qualities I want to pass on is perseverance. I want them to follow their dreams and work hard to make them a reality. There will be hurdles on their paths, but with perseverance and commitment they can overcome them all. It is important to never give up and always give their best even in adversity.

Do you want your children to follow in your footsteps?

I want them to be happy in whatever they choose to do professionally, if any or both of them decide that they want to pursue a career in the kitchen or in the hospitality sector, I will be the first one to guide them and make sure they become better than me. I am not sure if my wife will agree as she has experienced firsthand how demanding this job can be.

How are you going to celebrate Father’s day this year?

To be honest I don't know yet, I think my wife is planning a surprise for me that she obviously doesn't want to share, but I hope it involves delicious food and quality time together. Everything else will just purely be extra happiness.

RELEVANT: First Day We Got Our Stars: Agustin Balbi of Ando

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Albin Gobil

Chef de cuisine of Gaddi's, One MICHELIN Star

Tell us about your newborn.
I had the pleasure and joy of becoming a dad for the first time four months ago. Our little boy was born in Hong Kong and his name is Amaury.

How does having a newborn affect your work as a chef?
Having a newborn is very motivating, despite the sleepless nights. He brings a lot of energy to my everyday life with his presence. I became more patient with the team in the kitchen as I want Amaury to be proud of me.

What’s Amaury’s favourite food?
​For the moment, Amaury’s favourite food is warm milk (yes, he hates it when the milk is too cold). I cannot wait to prepare his first homemade vegetable purée.

What does quality time with Amaury look like?
Quality time for me with Amaury is when I can spend all day with him by myself, playing and discovering new things. It’s quite funny as he’s now laughing a lot with new facial expressions.

What do you want for Father’s Day?

The only thing I want for Father's Day is to spend time with family around a table of good food.

RELEVANT: The First Day We Got Our Stars: Albin Gobil

Photo: Courtesy of Ricardo Chaneton
Photo: Courtesy of Ricardo Chaneton

Ricardo Chaneton

Chef-owner of Mono, MICHELIN Plate

Tell us about your newborn.

My son is five months old, and his name is Adrien. We decided to use the French spelling for his name as my wife is French, so it is a special nod to her heritage. Our son's second name is Tao. Before we made Tao his official second name, it was his nickname before he was even born, so when we registered Adrien as his first name, we also decided to add Tao as his official second name. Tao pays homage to Asia as Adrien was born in Hong Kong.

What are your favourite food moment(s) with Adrien?

My favourite food moment with my son happened recently. He was ready for his first solid food and, as a chef, I didn't want him to try something ordinary. I wanted his first taste of solid food to be something extraordinary from Latin America, so I chose oca, which is the tubers of oxalis tuberosa. Oca is an ingredient from the Andes mountains and is not very well known in Asia. I steamed the oca and pureed it, and Adrien loved it.

This beautiful moment has inspired me to use oca in dishes that are now on the menu at Mono.

What are some life lessons/values you’d like to pass on to Adrien?

My favourite French quote came to mind: "Que la Sagesse preside a la construction de notre edifice, que la Force la soutienne, que la beauté l’orne” In English, it means: "May wisdom preside over the construction of our edifice, may force support it, may beauty adorn it.”

This quote speaks to me as I want to ensure that my son understands that we as parents want our children to become wiser with every day that passes. Wisdom is the preface of the construction of your edifice, and with every project that comes into your life, you need to decide what is the wisest and right thing to do.

Strength also needs to be sustained, it is vital to have strong morals and values as everything is rooted in our values. Strength is the foundation of every project.

Lastly, everything needs to be executed with beauty. I believe that every profession has beauty within it. To some people, a document written up by a lawyer could be seen as poetic, a doctor who stitches up wounds with excellent precision can be seen as beautiful; everything has beauty and should be executed with beauty.

Do you want Adrien to follow in your footsteps?

If he finds himself wanting to become a chef and follow the same path as mine, I will always support him. The most important thing for me is that he feels comfortable doing what he chooses to do.I will support my son in whatever he wants to do with his life, as long as he finds something happy and comfortable doing. The most important thing to me is that he feels happy with his life.

How are you going to celebrate Father’s day this year?

I will be celebrating with a father and son day out where we will have lunch at a friend's restaurant together as my wife will be working that day. My wife also works in the hospitality industry, and she works very hard, meaning our schedules are busy. I would like to say thank you to my wife for giving me my son, as he is the best gift and has given me the opportunity to be a father.

RELEVANT: Ricardo Chaneton On His "Destiny" To Open Mono In Hong Kong

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Ryota Kanesawa

Chef-owner of Ryota Kappou Modern, One MICHELIN Star

Tell us about your child.

My son’s name is Taiga Kanesawa. He is 15 months old now.

How did you feel when you held your newborn in your arms for the first time?
I felt a little bit nervous, but in a good way. He is my first son and I’m very excited to start a new adventure with him.

Which dish do you want your child to remember you for?
Congee. It is his favourite food at the moment. Congee is actually quite simple but it could become something much more when you cook it with different ingredients and flavours. That’s what I want for his life in the future as well—to find out how to be extraordinary in the ordinary.

What does quality time with your child look like?
Having a bath together, playing and connecting with him. Similar to what we would do in Japanese culture, with a hot spring (onsen).

What do you want for Father’s Day?
Just a simple, relaxing day with my family.

RELEVANT: The First Day We Got Our Stars: Ryota Kanesawa


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