Working in the kitchen came naturally to Lam, who followed in the footsteps of his father, who worked as a chef, and his brother, who is a pastry chef. He entered the tumultuous world of restaurants when he was still in his teens.
On his first job as a junior cook at 14, he recalls: “I had to prepare meals for large tour groups of more than 200 people for lunch and dinner, as well as meals for the banquet staff. I worked 11 hours a day and often had to work overtime to finish my tasks. It was extremely punishing.”
At another restaurant, he had to face snakes in order to prepare snake soup, a Hong Kong delicacy. “If you’re not careful, the snake can coil itself around your arm, which can be frightening,” he says.
Less than a year after he uprooted to Singapore, Jiang-Nan Chun was lauded with one star in the MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2018. The long-time hotel restaurant is named after the Jiangnan region in southern China, which counts Suzhou, Hangzhou and Guangzhou as its major cities.
The glossy orange-red Iberico pork cubes, which are judiciously coated in a tangy sauce, are deep-fried to give them a wafer-thin crust that envelops the succulent meat. Lending a special touch to this familiar dish are shards of house-made candied ginger, which rounds off each bite with a hint of the warm spice.
Other signature dishes include dim sum items and the retro Hong Kong dish of deep-fried crab shell stuffed with shredded sweet Alaskan crab meat stir-fried with onions, butter and milk.
My first encounter was when I was working at Ying restaurant in Macau (it received a Michelin star in MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2017). The MICHELIN Guide is known to be one of the most sought-after authority on best culinary experiences.
How was it like when Jiang-Nan Chun received a Michelin star this year?
The hotel management and myself were all extremely jubilant. The team at Jiang-Nan Chun had worked very hard on perfecting our craft, from the food to service. We were on the edge of our seats and nearly fell off when we heard that the restaurant was announced as one of the one-Michelin-starred recipients.
How did you celebrate this achievement?
A tradition at the hotel is that the management staff has to serenade the department when it receives an award. So, the hotel’s management came by the restaurant to sing a congratulatory song and to celebrate with cakes and drinks.
As a chef, what does having a Michelin star mean to you?
It is a nod of appreciation for the team’s effort, the cuisine and service at the restaurant from industry leaders. Without a strong team, this achievement would not have been possible. This validation is humbling and encouraging at the same time. We are truly grateful for this.
What advice do you have for young chefs aiming for Michelin stars?
Pay close attention to the ingredients you use, such as their flavours and textures. The presentation of dishes is also important in taking diners on a journey.