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Chef’s Corner

Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 10:44 Hrs  [IST]

A culinary expert from the land of the Orient, Chef Cheang Chee Leong has worked with renowned hotel brands in the Middle East and across Asia. Chef Leong began his career in 1990 as a Chinese chef at the Regent Hotel in Kuala Lumpur following which he was appointed as the in-house chef at the popular restaurant ‘Jade’ in Hong Kong. His dedication towards improvising cuisine along with retaining the original flavours in modern Asian culinary techniques won him a position at the Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur in 1997. After a two-year stint at the property, Chef Leong was roped in by Renaissance Cruises, Singapore as the Sous Chef.

His journey as an Executive Chef began in 2001 with Hotel Robin, Ipoh in Malaysia, where he got acquainted with Malaysian cuisine. It was after working with a couple of other renowned restaurants across Asia, that he joined Shangri-La in China as the Executive Chef followed by which he was appointed by Palladium Hotel in Mumbai (now called the St. Regis, Mumbai) as the Asian Chef De Cuisine at the Mekong. It was Chef Leong’s recent stint that made headlines, when he led the kitchens of the year-old Spicy Duck which replaced the popular open-air Vietnamese restaurant called Blue Ginger at Taj Palace in New Delhi.

Q In your opinion, how important is it for chefs to work in different geographies to hone their culinary skills?
Travelling across the globe definitely gives you a perspective of diverse palates from various regions. What adds to a chef’s skill set is the ability to alter one’s culinary preparations to adapt to the authentic taste sensibilities of a specific region. It also helps the chef to understand the minute intricacies of the other cuisines, adding more value to one’s portfolio.

Q How versatile Cantonese cuisine is to make it appealing to a wide array of palates?
I believe the Cantonese cuisine is versatile and easy to experiment with, as it allows one to include local ingredients without hampering the original recipe. The basics of Cantonese is all about the sauces and spices which are now easily available and hence helps us adapt to the wide array of palates.

Q What different are you trying to do at Dashanzi at JW Marriott especially since you know the Mumbai market and customer taste?
Dashanzi is best known for its indulgent spread of the finest Japanese and Chinese dishes. Having been given the chance to head Dashanzi, I would want to introduce a new variety of culinary treats that celebrate the authenticity of progressive Asian cuisine by introducing homemade concoctions with the minimal use of condiments and aromatic spices.

Q What is your philosophy as a Chef? As a Chef, I strongly believe that it is imperative for me to maintain the authentic flavours of the dish that I am curating without losing out on its original flavour. For me, it is about maintaining the right balance between retaining the original flavours of the dish whilst also fine-tuning them to ensure they meet the expectations of my customer.

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