Chinese native, Chef Cheng Kam Sing has been a resident of Thailand since 1989, and with his impeccable Cantonese cooking credentials he was immediately sought after by the best-known and most reputable Chinese restaurants in Bangkok. Chef Kam has been the head chef of Silk Road at The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel for the last fifteen years, and in addition to cooking for local residents and guests, he has also served up the finest Chinese delicacies to numerous famous visitors.
Silk Road is renowned for delivering a “Modern Authenticity” in which the chefs pay respect to the heritage of the recipes and traditions, while presenting them for a modern audience. A selection of the choicest Chinese teas is also offered with rituals drawing heavily upon Chinese traditions.
What makes your food unique?
My food is unique because I cook the original Cantonese cuisine but with a more modern style, yet the taste of the food is original. With a modern-style technique, our original Cantonese cuisine can become much more instagrammable for social media. The food is authentic in taste, but very modern in its looks and presentation.
What’s your tip for making great meal?
I believe every dish should tell a story, either about the chef’s inspiration or a memory from childhood. It should be something people can relate to, and then it makes the food far more interesting.
What are the challenges of being a chef today?
In my own past it was difficult to study Chinese cuisine, unlike nowadays when recipes can easily be found by anyone with access to social media. The drawback today, from my point of view, is that these recipes are usually not original. Anyone can use them. Before I became a chef de cuisine in a Chinese restaurant, I was just a little chef who wanted to learn everything. My dad inspired me, as he used to work as a chef and I decided I wanted to be like him one day. However, my path was not that easy. When I was learning in my first restaurant, I had to sneak up and see what my chef was putting inside the dishes. The Chinese chefs in those days would never share their recipes; they would only let us bring ingredients to them, cut vegetables, and do basic tasks in the kitchen. For some recipes, if I tried to learn from my chef, it would sometimes take me a year or more to succeed! What I’m trying to say is that you need to have patience and never give up on what you do. Always listen to any comments, either good or bad, so that in the end you can improve yourself.
What’s the latest trend in Chinese cuisine? Do you believe in fusion food, and why?
Chinese cuisine is trending in presentation, so you now have very modern Chinese restaurants still offering the authentic flavors of traditional recipes, but the food is now presented much more elegantly, either in individual portions or in modern chinaware. Gone are the days of the traditional-style bamboo dim sum baskets and round white plates. Who says Chinese food is boring? Forget Chinese take away dinners at home – now several Chinese restaurants have Michelin stars. Chinese food has become a work of art. You see dim sum in the shape of swans, or fish. It’s fun and playful now.
What’s your advice to those who want to master Chinese cuisine?
My advice is that you must never stop learning, and always have patience in what you do. Never think that your food is good enough already, but instead think that you need to improve every day.