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People 5 minutes 07 May 2021

Mother's Day 2021: MICHELIN Chefs Reveal Favourite Dish From Mum

This Mother's Day, MICHELIN chefs take a trip down memory lane to share their favourite memories of mum.

Mother's Day Hong Kong Michelin star

Whether it’s everyday comfort food or a secret recipe that only mum knew, some of our best memories from childhood took place around the kitchen table. While traveling home to visit mum may not an option this year, we celebrate Mother's Day with heartening stories from MICHELIN chefs about their favourite dishes from mum—some may have even inspired a career in cooking, too.

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Eric Räty
Arbor
Two MICHELIN Stars, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2021

Favourite dish from mum: Blood pancakes with lingonberry

Born and raised in Finland, chef Räty finds nostalgia in potatoes—a staple that reminds him of his mum’s cooking. Back home, potatoes—the ultimate Finnish comfort food—are often mashed or boiled as an ingredient in soups, pancakes, and breads.

“Potato salmon soup, or oven-baked potato with sour cream and herbs reminds me of my mother. But honestly that wasn't my favourite since it was always over baked until the whites came out.”

Blood pancakes and lingonberries with a glass of fresh milk, however, is more his jam. “I just can’t stop eating them. Another dish I suddenly started missing recently is the barley porridge that is baked overnight in wood-fired ovens, served with fresh or preserved berries.”

Since a young age, Räty has always loved helping out in the kitchen. “My mother and I cooked a lot together and it just happened naturally. I was never interested in helping dad fixing cars or cutting trees in the forest. I have always preferred staying in the kitchen.”

One of his fondest memories of mum was when she brought him to a restaurant when he was young, which was something special as they mostly ate at home. When Räty became the pastry chef of Aqua, he invited his mum to visit.

“It was when she really understood my work. The experience and the attention to details made it clear to her why I was working so hard. I hope I will have a chance to bring her to Arbor soon.”

RELEVANT: Chef's Day Off: Eric Räty Discovers Craftsmanship In Ceramics

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Olivier Elzer
L’Envol
Two MICHELIN Stars, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2021

Favourite dish from mum: Caprese salad

Growing up in a restaurant family, chef Elzer was taught to appreciate the finer ingredients from a young age. His fondest memories of mum was visiting the markets and picking seasonal ingredients together. It was during that time that he learned to respect the seasonality of ingredients.

“My mother has a huge influence on my taste buds. One thing she has always encouraged me to do is to stay curious. I remember when I was young, I never really liked avocados because of the taste, but my mum would make me try it—every year. Gradually, my palate and mindset learned to understand it," says Elzer.

"Because of this, I’m definitely more curious and always up for trying new things. This curiosity has also brought me to Asia, where I stepped out of my comfort zone to create different dishes based on local ingredients. For example, one of my dishes involves abalone, which is loved by the locals here, and I have also cooked chicken feet with foie gras.”

Chef Elzer describes his mum’s cooking style as “homey and from the heart”, and the one dish that he misses the most is her Caprese salad.

“It’s her signature dish. She makes it with lots of chopped garlic and basil, tops it off with thick and generous slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese, and a very generous drizzle of olive oil—it is utterly delicious.”

“It’s a simple dish but no one else in the world ever comes close to creating the same sense of joy and emotion I feel when I eat my mum’s version.”

Half German, half French, Elzer’s mother grew up around a professional cook—her father, a chef who owned three restaurants in Geneva. Surprisingly, when Elzer told mum he wanted to become a chef, she was against it.

“The way chefs were perceived back in the days was not great, but she has since changed her mind about my career after seeing my passion, how much I love what I do, the hard work I put into it, and MICHELIN's recognition.”

"For me, the MICHELIN Stars are not only a recognition for myself, but also for my team and my family who have been supporting me along the way. My mum’s support is something that I’m always grateful for."

RELEVANT: When The Stars Align: André Fu and Olivier Elzer On Bringing Excellence To The Table

Augustin Balbi
Ando
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2021

Favourite dish from mum: Tortilla

Born with Spanish and Italian roots, it’s no surprise that Argentinian chef Augustin Balbi grew up surrounded by food. His favourite memories of mum’s cooking is her tortilla.

“I love the beautiful smell of sweating onion and chorizo that came to my room when my mother made a tortilla—she’s very proud of it because it’s the only dish that could compare to my grandmother’s cooking.”

Balbi’s grandmother, known as Lola, is the inspiration behind Ando’s signature caldoso rice. While his mum’s cooking may not be on par with his grandmother’s, her empanadas were a favourite in the household.

“They were made from scratch and tasted super good,” says chef Balbi. “She would wake up early in the morning to prepare the dough and the fillings separately. She would save the sauce for later to incorporate it into the mix. The repulgue of the empanada was a very serious matter for her—it had to be done in a very specific way.”

Four years ago on Balbi’s last trip back to Argentina, he had the chance to cook hand-cut beef empanadas with his mum, using eggs, green olives, cumin and paprika. “It was delicious but it tasted even better because we made them together.”

One of the most important lessons Balbi learned from his mum was “to work hard, never give up and always look for solutions."

“I want to thank mum for all the sacrifices she made and unconditional love she gave me,” says Balbi. “I am so happy to have her as my angel every day.”

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

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Mitsuru Konishi
Zest by Konishi
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2021

Favourite dish from mum: Apple pie

As the chef-owner of Zest by Konishi, Okayama-born Mitsuru Konishi discovered his passion for cooking from an early age. His mother, whose cooking was “always satisfying”, was the inspiration behind his decision to become a chef.

“I started assisting my mum in the kitchen at the age of six. She was the one who made me want to bring delicious food to people.”

Describing his mum as “strong, active and caring”, Konishi enjoys cooking with her whenever he visits his parents in Japan.

When asked about his favourite dish from mum, Konishi says her homemade apple pie is something that really takes him back, though it’s been a while since she made them.

This Mother’s Day, Konishi wishes to tell mum: “Take care of yourself and let’s travel together again when everything goes back to normal!”

RELEVANT: The First Day We Got Our Stars: Mitsuru Konishi

Suzuki Fumio
Zuicho
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2021

Favourite dish from mum: Shogayaki (ginger pork)

Growing up in a family-owned kappo restaurant in Tokyo, Suzuki Fumio is no stranger to good food. Although he only decided to become a chef after university graduation, his palate and cooking knowledge was developed from a young age through observing his parents.

“I was always interested in delicious foods but not in working the kitchen because it looked like hard work with long hours and lots of fire.”

When thinking about his family, Japanese nabe (hot pot) is the first thing that springs to his mind. “It’s the main dish that my family enjoys the most. I remember complaining to my mother saying ‘Not again’ every winter but now I really miss having it with my family’s special homemade sauces.”

His fondest memories of his mother are when they prepared BBQ together during festive seasons, such as New Year’s Eve. His favourite dish from her is shogayaki (ginger pork)—the taste of it instantly reminds him of his young self.

When he received his first MICHELIN star on MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2021, his mother said to him: “You’re blessed to have great staff. You wouldn’t have been able to earn the Star alone, so don’t forget to appreciate your staff.”

Ryota Kanesawa and his mother cooking at her kushikatsu restaurant (Photo: Ryota Kanesawa)
Ryota Kanesawa and his mother cooking at her kushikatsu restaurant (Photo: Ryota Kanesawa)

Ryota Kanesawa
Ryota Kappou Modern
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau

Favourite dish from mum: Oyakodon (chicken and egg rice bowl)

Born in a restaurant family in Sakai City, Osaka, Ryota Kanesawa says that nothing reminds him of home more than kushikatsu.

His mother’s kushikatsu restaurant, Higotsubaki, which has been running for 35 years, is where chef Kanesawa learned about ingredients and work in the kitchen. His earliest memory of mum’s cooking is the bento boxes that she would prepare for him to bring to school. Now that he’s away from home, he misses mum’s plain omelette and Oyakodon the most.

“Oyakodon is a simple dish but it is very tasty, and it symbolises the connection between the parents and their kids as indicated in the dish name.”

A family tradition that Kanesawa reminisces about is having fugu (pufferfish) hot pot—his mother’s favourite dish—with his family. Whenever he goes back home, he makes time to cook with his mum at her restaurant.

“It’s very interesting to see how her mind works and our different ways of cooking.”

This Mother’s Day, chef Kansesawa wishes to say: “I miss you. I hope to introduce you to your first grandson soon. Happy Mother’s Day!”

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

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