First Day I Got My Michelin Stars: Cheung Siu Kong of Summer Pavilion

We get the world's most celebrated chefs to recall what it was like when they got their very first Michelin stars.
Having been at one-Michelin-starred Summer Pavilion restaurant in The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore for over a decade, Chinese executive chef Cheung Siu Kong is well-versed in turning out contemporary Cantonese dishes that bring out the natural flavours of the ingredients he uses.

Cheung's love for the culinary world began at the tender age of seven, when he started learning how to cook from his grandmother. He was formerly from Lei Garden in Hong Kong, where he honed his skills at crafting delicate dim sums, before he moved to Singapore in 1996. He joined Summer Pavilion in 2003.

A father of three, Cheung enjoys travelling with his family for leisure and draws inspiration from the variety of cuisines sampled during his travels. We sit down with him to find out more.
Main dining hall of Summer Pavilion.
Main dining hall of Summer Pavilion.
My first encounter with the MICHELIN guide was when... I was about 23 years old. After realising that it was a widely- acclaimed guide recognising culinary excellence, I made it my career goal to work towards earning a Michelin star.

The first time my team and I earned a star... was at Summer Pavilion in 2016. In November 2015, the restaurant had just reopened after a complete transformation, and in line with the relaunch, the culinary team took the opportunity to refine the dining experience by conceiving new and innovative Cantonese menus that would be served at the new restaurant.

The first thing I did when I realised we had won a star was...To share the good news with my team in our group chat [on WhatsApp]. I also took the opportunity to thank the culinary and service teams for their hard work and support all these years. We popped champagne the very next day in celebration of this accolade.
How much influence has the MICHELIN guide had on your life and career?
The influence the MICHELIN guide has had on my career is the motivation my team and I derive from this recognition. The Michelin star rating has fuelled our passion for the culinary arts, driving us to continuously perfect the dining experience for our guests by creating dishes that not only taste good, but also look good. Feedback from our guests have always been very positive, and this has boosted my confidence and reaffirms the hard work and long hours that my team and I have put in.

My advice for young chefs aiming for Michelin stars is...

That determination and focus is crucial. Gaining hands-on experience in a kitchen is important and so is working hard at getting the basics right. Study and know your ingredients well; find ways to bring out the best flavours in them and experiment with ways to pair them with other flavours to create both interesting and complex dishes that will excite the palate.

Recommended reading: View The First Day I Got My Michelin Stars series here.

Chef Cheung Siu Kong is our featured chef of the month as part of the MICHELIN guide Singapore Chef Showcase. He will be creating a premium six-course menu featuring dishes inspired by flora and fauna typically found in a Chinese garden. His food will be paired with Ruinart champagnes specially handpicked by Robert Parker Wine Advocate’s esteemed team of wine critics. Click here for more information.
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