Richard Ekkebus, chef of Amber Restuarant has made a name for himself in Hong Kong where he has build the restaurant at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental from scratch. Following our in-depth interview which you can read here, this is our rapid fire question and answer with the Dutch chef.
Your best ever meal?
Michel Bras. It was with Pierre Gagnaire. We had a table of five as part of a team building.
Is there something you don’t eat?
There are things that for certain reasons I will not eat such as bluefin tuna or whale. But as a chef, I cannot judge until I try food so I am open to everything. I’ve tried monkey, I’ve tried whale and also insects.
Any chefs that inspire you?
Anybody who is passionate. There is community today that is very open and also happy to share.
Do you cook at home?
Never. My wife cooks really well and I love her cooking. I am the sommelier at home. I walk to the wine cellar, open a bottle and decant it.
Your favourite dish?
I have been born and raised in Zeeland like Sergio Herman so I love anything that comes fro the sea.
What’s your view of people taking photos in restaurants?
People can do what they want, they are paying for the experience. Having said that, I had dinner in Osaka two months ago at Reserve Hajime and it was strictly forbidden to have mobile phones at table. I was with my wife and son (who is now studying in New York) and we agreed it was probably one of the best experiences we ever had because we were completely focused on the food, not worried about lights, the angle, shadows etc.
One thing that is in your professional kitchen that should be in anyone’s kitchen?
A good knife, a pair of tweezers and a spoon. You can do pretty much everything with that.
Places you like to eat in Hong Kong?
I love to eat at home. But when I have guests I love the Chairman which is my favourite Cantonese restaurant. It is really a restaurant I enjoy. I love Asian food. I also love Yardbird which cooks everything on a Yakitori grill. It is simple, but really Asian. I cook Western food so I love anything that is Asian. I could eat noodles all day.
I love reading. I read on my mobile phone, I read everywhere. I read when I am waiting for the bus. My all time favourite books are by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Living in the time of the cholera is a great book. I also like Perfume: The story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind. It is one of the best books ever written. It focuses on the sense of smell which is really important for a chef. The story is really well written. I also love South American writers like Isabelle Allende and Umberto Eco or the latest Dan Brown novel. I love diversity when I am reading.
You left Europe. What’s your view of the culinary scene today looking at it from Hong Kong.
Every continent has its charm. I love going back to France. There is a sense of terroir which is incredible. You eat differently in every region from South to North, in the mountains everywhere. The also have different cooking methods, it is phenomenal. They have a very rich culinary heritage like Italy. Spain is maybe a bit more liberated because of the movement created by Ferran Adria. So I think Italy and France are very traditional but when you have such a history you do not need to write a story every day. I think that what is important is that people have this desire to travel for food, whether it is modernist or traditional. I think there is place for everything. Like in music, sometimes you feel like something classic, sometimes something modern. I love going to Bocuse. For me it is like travelling back in time. The sauces are the same to the ones we were created when I was starting my career. France was the place where everything happened. When I worked with Alain Passard, we had Ferran Adria coming in every three years to see what we were doing before he found his style. We now have developments in South America, North America, the Nordic movement and this is great.