Chef Charles Chee Ken Fui is a native Chinese, hailing from Malaysia with a proficiency for Chinese modern and fusion Cantonese cuisine with a fine dining experience. He recently joined KA Hospitality and has been brought onboard Hakkasan, the Michelin-starred restaurant to conceptualise new varieties of delectable wok tossed dishes created with the perfect balance of cantonese flavours combined with a French culinary influence. Having a flair for authentic stir fried and fiery wok dishes, Chef Charles, in an interview with Hospitality Biz, expresses his elation in introducing the unique flavours of South-East Asia fused with modern delight, to entice Indian taste buds.
Is this your first exposure to Indian
hospitality? If yes, how do you look at this opportunity?
Yes, this is my first opportunity in India and I am truly enjoying my stint in India. India is now open to different cuisines, and I am particularly seeing a change in how people are open to trying new flavours, which gives me immense happiness. Cantonese cuisine was relatively unknown till a few years back, but looking at the feedback and response from guests, I am truly humbled.
Do you think Chinese and Cantonese cuisine is authentically represented in India?
Authentic Cantonese cuisine relies heavily on the use of local ingredients and meats like beef and pork. Each dish has it's own unique flavours depending on ingredients used. Hakkasan has brought authentic Cantonese cuisine represented in a modern form. We have had a very positive feedback to our modern cuisine, and have noticed Indians enjoying these flavours. Through Chinese festivals like Chinese New Year, I create and introduce limited edition dishes, which are traditionally Chinese, yet would appeal to today’s guest keeping in line with Hakkasan's ethos. I think the best way to introduce people to our heritage is to continue
cooking and participating in festivals that are part of our heritage, which will further lead to knowledge of Chinese and Cantonese cuisine.
Stir-fry Chicken with rice crispies & curry leaves
What does one have to keep in mind while preparing a wok?
Cantonese food can be a puzzle for many. There is complexity of techniques, diverse
flavours from saltiness of soy to acidity of vinegars used. There are techniques used in the wok which cannot be written down, as you need to be trained in it by physically learning how to use one. While preparing a wok dish, speed is of primary importance. The weight of the wok has to be light as wok requires tossing of food, and the chef needs to be extremely swift and agile while handling the woks.
What would you count as your
accomplishment as a chef so far?
I have won 22 awards and honours namely, Masterchef Medal at Olympic International
Masterchef, Special Gold Medal at the World Golden Chef Competition in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, The International Singapore Chinese Fine Dining Cuisine – Gold Medal, Gold and Special Gold Medal at the Malaysia & China world Chinese Cuisine - Hot Dish & Vegetable, Exhibition Display Category and several others. Each win was special; it is difficult to pick one win over another.
What, according to you, are the new trends which will drive the global culinary market?
Plating and presentation of the dishes, usage of colours and edible flowers, fusion of Western and ethnic cooking techniques will also make it big in the coming months.
Who is your inspiration/idol in the
My father is my biggest inspiration. He, too, is a chef and I have grown up watching him in this role; I knew I wanted to follow his footsteps.
Spicy Crab & Mantao