Features 4 minutes 25 December 2019

Cameras, Cookbooks And Carols: Chefs' Favourite Christmas Gifts

Chefs of MICHELIN-starred restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei reminisce about the best gifts they’ve ever received and what they really want for Christmas this year.

Festival Christmas Celebration

This Christmas, we ask the chefs of MICHELIN-starred restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei about their warmest Christmas memories and their gift suggestions for foodie friends. From much-needed vacations to tickets to a Lakers game, these chefs also share what it is that they really, really want for Christmas this year.

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Daniel Calvert, Belon in Hong Kong
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2020

The best Christmas gift I ever received… was a PlayStation 2. There was a period of time when all I wanted for Christmas, more than anything, was a PlayStation 2. All my friends had one and it was such a huge part of life, but it was expensive and I never thought I would have my own. So, I vividly remember that feeling of excitement when it was there one Christmas morning. While I haven’t owned a gaming console since I was 16 and was never really any good at it, that feeling is something I still remember to this day. Another Christmas, my grandparents gifted me Alain Ducasse’s Grand Livre de Cuisine, a book that I had coveted for years, which fuelled my passion and inspired me to keep moving along this path.

For foodie friends and family… it’s less about gifting them something physical and more about making the most of the time I am able to spend at home, by sharing with them something that I am passionate about, which is cooking. If I had to pin down a single gift, I get my mum a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream every year – by this point it is almost a tradition of its own.

What I really want this year…
is, honestly, a single button blazer from Balmain. I’ve been chasing after one for ages and would happily welcome the gift if anyone is offering!

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Han Liguang, Labyrinth in Singapore
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019

The best Christmas gift I ever received… was a huge present from my aunt one year. It was in a big wrapped box that opened to reveal a foosball table. I loved it and remember it till today! I haven't really received presents since I became an adult, but last year I was invited to be in a Christmas carol music video on the MICHELIN Guide website with a bunch of other chefs, it was crazy, you never get to do something like that. We played it in the restaurant for guests last Christmas. I guess that was a present from Michelin to me!

For a foodie friend… I would get them a nice kitchen tool set, perhaps a portable set of knives or tweezers in a nice leather case.

What I really want this year… is a holiday. I really want to get off the grid and go somewhere quiet. It doesn't even need to be a place with good food. Some quiet time with my loved one is all I ask for Christmas.

A Christmas Carol: Chefs Go From The Kitchen To The Recording Studio
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Paul Lee, Impromptu By Paul Lee in Taipei
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Taipei 2019

The best Christmas gift I ever received… was a set of books on modernist cuisine set my wife gave me because she knew I was very interested in food science as a young cook working at Le Cirque. 

For a foodie friend… you can never go wrong with nice Japanese knives. I have gifted knives to my front-of-house managers in the past, because for some reason, they all like to cook.

What I really want this year… are tickets to the Lakers at the Staples Centre!

Vicky Lau, Tate Dining Room and Bar in Hong Kong
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2020

The best Christmas gift I ever received… was a camera given to me last year by a close friend. I think it was the perfect gift. Not only do I love to cook, but I also love exploring the magical relationship between food and pictures.

For a foodie friend…
I would buy them some good quality produce, such as a nice piece of fish, oysters or other seafood. Although you can find most ingredients in Hong Kong, it’s hard to find one of good quality.

What I really want this year… is a trip to Norway. It has been on my bucket list to watch the Northern Lights and taste Nordic cuisine.

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Jeremy Gillon, JAG in Singapore
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019

The best Christmas gift I ever received… and still do, is the opportunity to spend Christmas with my whole family gathered around a Christmas dinner. Now that I live overseas and rarely going back home to France, these moments have become very important and special.

For a foodie friend… I would offer the gift of sharing and feasting! Christmas is a wonderful time to prepare a simple, comfortable yet elegant meal to share with loved ones, especially foodies. For me, French Bresse chicken, specifically from a free-range breeder called Au Chapon Bressan, cooked with classic root vegetables is a representative of happiness and comfort. With a great meal like that and with the most important, formidable people around me, the memories created are definitely unique and will last a lifetime.

What I really want this year… is to spend Christmas back home. Christmas is one of the rare occasions where all my family members make the time to come together and create memorable moments that we can all share. This gift of time and a Christmas feast we all share is very much cherished.

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Eric Chen, Golden Formosa in Taipei
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Taipei 2019

The best Christmas gift I ever received… was in 2004, when I was suffering from aplastic anemia. My sister agreed to donate her bone marrow to me and the report came back that it was a perfect match.

For a foodie friend… I would cook an off-menu specialty of stewed ribs and eel with nourishing medicinal herbs and Chinese yam.

What I really want this year… is for my family to be together, and for them to enjoy peace and good health.

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Yang Kuang Tsung, Tien Hsiang Lo in Taipei
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Taipei 2019

The best Christmas gift I ever received…
was a made-in-Japan Chinese cleaver and chopping set a friend gave me the year before. The workmanship is like a work of art. Till now it's sitting unopened in my cabinet because I simply cannot bear to use it. Every time I see it, it reminds me of the promise I made to myself during my apprenticeship days, which is to never forget my initial passion for giving my best to my customers.
  
For a foodie friend… I would serve them my restaurant's signature dish of Slow Braised Pork "Dong-Po" Style. The dish is served in a claypot inscribed with the restaurant's logo, which is a nice souvenir for them to keep as a memory of the dish's flavour as well as our team's sincere effort that went into cooking it.

What I really want this year… the blessings of our customers at Tien Hsiang Lo, which is more than enough as a present for me!

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Wong Wing Keung, Man Wah in Hong Kong
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2020

The best Christmas gift I ever received… was the first MICHELIN star Yee Tung Heen got two years ago when I was there. The award was a recognition of the team’s hard work and dedicated effort in creating outstanding dining experience for our guests.

For a foodie friend… I enjoy giving homemade delicacies. This year, I’ve prepared a lemon syrup with tangerine peel and rock sugar. It helps soothe irritated throats and coughs. I’ve also made pickled ginger in the past as Christmas presents.

What I really want this year… is to spend this Christmas with the full Man Wah team here!

The tangerine peel and rock sugar syrup made by Wong Wing Keung.
The tangerine peel and rock sugar syrup made by Wong Wing Keung.

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