World acclaimed Hong Kong restaurant Amber by chef Richard Ekkebus will be closing for a complete refurbishment for four months in the summer of 2018, the Dutch chef told Food and Wine Gazette in an interview to be published in the coming days.
Ekkebus who opened the restaurant at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong 13 years ago said that they will be starting afresh. “It is going to be like a reopening. We will need to learn how to cook again. It is a very big exercise and we have been working on this for the past three years,” he said.
Chef of what was once called the ‘Da Vinci code menu restaurant’ because of the avant garde approach he took to Hong Kong traditions, Ekkebus said that he felt that ‘we are coming to a point where everybody loves us and we need to find something new to push a little bit further and to get clients a bit outside their comfort zone.”
Without going too much into the details on the refurbishment which is still being planned together with the designers, he said that Amber has operated for 13 years within its current structure and he believes that in it’s current form it has expanded to its maximum potential. “If we want to go beyond, then we need to change our shell. It is like a lobster that changes shell. You reach a point where the carcass becomes too big for the animal. We are the same, if we want to evolve as a restaurant we have to change the way we operate,” he said.
Amber is currently 24th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
The Dutch chef said a number of important changes will be made. “We are asking ourselves whether we should have a menu or not, whether we should serve food a la carte and so forth. We are at the stage where we are questioning a lot of things. For me, it is not just about the food but also about the service, about what our customers expect and about creating wow moments.”
He said this is not just about changing the decor. “Questioning is essential if we want to evolve. If we want the restaurant to be successful for another 12 years, then this is the only way,” he said.
The Dutch chef said that when going for such a change you needed to analyse what was going well, what they have not been doing well and how they could improve on this. “We will be having a presentation with our designer in a few days time. I have been going to and fro to New York to meet, discuss and talk and brainstorm. We have been sending hundreds and hundreds of emails with our ideas. The change will be an expression of the designer, my team and myself,” he said.
Ekkebus said the Landmark Mandarin Oriental will also have a roof garden. “It is not our intention to grow everything but we have calculated the amount of herbs and flowers that we import, what we spend on airfreight and how much fuel we burn. We will gain in freshness and also be able to use our waste as compost. It is not about saving money but about how we can be better operators. If everyone can do that it would be a better world.
We can also expect changes to the dining room with its uniquely dramatic chandelier of 4320 bronze rods suspended above the dining room on the seventh floor of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. But we will only get to know whats in store when the plans are finalised.
Don’t miss our long interview with chef Richard Ekkebus in the coming days on Food and Wine Gazette. In this wind-ranging interview we touch upon many aspects including how the Dutch chef got to Hong Kong, his creative process, his views on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and guides, the impact of technology and social media on the dining experience and what the restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong is doing to eliminate waste including plastics.