We take a look at the Prince Edward home of the entrepreneurial siblings behind two of the city’s coolest eateries: Anne and Chris Cheung of macaron paradise Jouer and artisanal sandwich joint Bread & Beast respectively.
You’re both Hong Kongers but have taken a rather circuitous route to get back here! Tell us more about your backgrounds and what made you return.
Chris: I was born in Sydney, but moved back to Hong Kong at the tender age of one! I then grew up here and attended a local boys’ school until tenth grade; following this, I went to boarding school and college in the US. I worked in New York for another two years and relocated to Shanghai with the company I was working for, before eventually returning to Hong Kong. Family was the main reason for my move back; after spending a decade living abroad, the time felt ripe to go home and apply myself to something new, which is how Bread & Beast was born.
Anne: Like Chris, I was born in Sydney, raised in Hong Kong and went to college in the States. After graduating, I worked in the art field in New York and London, before coming back to Hong Kong in 2008 to work as an art consultant. I then jetted off again – to Paris this time – to complete my Patisserie Diploma at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. I finally came back in 2011 to start my own lifestyle and pastry brand, Jouer.
Was it a coincidence that both of you ended up working in food or is it something in the Cheung genes?
Chris: It is and it isn’t! It’s coincidental because I met my business partners separately, and the inspiration and philosophy behind Bread & Beast and Jouer are very different. However, growing up, Anne was always “grooming” me, educating me about food, wine, cocktails and other expensive hobbies! So my passion for food was definitely nurtured by my eldest sister.
Anne: Growing up, Chris was always my partner-in-crime and we share very similar tastes in food and views on food culture. He’s also the only family member who would go on crazy food trips and obsess over American food shows with me!
You live in Prince Edward. Can you tell us about the pros and cons of this neighbourhood?
Anne: I love how where we live is super peaceful with lots of trees and plenty of fresh air, but once you walk down the hill, it’s the quintessential Hong Kong life – where you can find curry fish balls, softserve ice cream trucks and street vendors selling everything from phone accessories to pyjamas on Fa Yuen Street. In a short five-minute stroll, you stumble into a completely different world – it’s amazing!
I also love the Flower Market nearby; it’s become my weekend ritual to shop there for flowers to decorate Jouer, and I haven’t ordered bouquets from expensive florists since. The only slight disadvantage of where we are is the long uphill walk back home on late nights and the difficulty getting taxis (leading to an appalling Uber bill!).
Any hidden gems around Prince Edward?
Anne: Hay Fever is a florist-café in the Flower Market that serves excellent hand-drip coffee and a pretty good lemon meringue cake; the best part is that there’s no Wi-Fi, with a sweet sign reminding you to stop and smell the flowers or read a good book. Kam Wah Cafe on Bute Street serves arguably the best pineapple buns in town; its chicken pies and Mexican buns are also delicious. Near the Sham Shui Po side, there’s my favourite neighbourhood izakaya, Yoshi Yoshi – I get my late-night sake and small-bite cravings fixed there. Then you can walk over to BOUND on Boundary Street for a craft beer, G&T or even nightcap espresso; this neighbourhood bar is the hip place to be right now on the dark side and is frequented by stylists, musicians, designers and artists. It reminds me of the Lower East Side in New York; it’d be even more amazing if they served food.
What’s it like living together as siblings? Any ups and downs?
Chris: We’re very lucky to have separate rooms, ha ha! No, it’s mostly nice, except for when my other sister Laura [founder of home décor store Lala Curio] does a photo-shoot – she ends up moving everyone’s belongings from the dining area into my room! Otherwise, it’s a happy family.
Anne: We live under the same roof but I barely see him!
What are some of your favourite features in your home?
Chris: The meditation room and the garden are my favourites. They’re very open and simple spaces; I meditate and read there because it calms me very easily. The garden is a lovely communal space where we sometimes have family brunch or friends over for a barbecue.
Anne: I love the long horizontal Victor Pasmore artwork spanning across the dining room wall, which we acquired while I was working at Marlborough Fine Art in London. I also fell in love with our spiral staircase the instant I walked into our new home five years ago.
How would you describe your style in terms of décor? Who gets to call the shots in terms of your interior design?
Chris: I’m a minimalist and prefer soft colours on the wall with dark wood furniture to offer some contrast. Unfortunately, being the youngest in the family, I don’t get to call the shots on anything, not even my own room. Laura is the interior designer and my room was her idea when I was still living in New York!
Anne: I’m less minimalist than Chris but less bold and elaborate than Laura. I like white and pastel colours, vintage furniture, Art Nouveau décor and contemporary art on the walls.
You’ve clearly both got entrepreneurial spirits – what was the inspiration behind your businesses?
Chris: I’ll credit our parents. They’ve not only been my inspiration, but have also been so incredibly supportive along the way. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.
Anne: Same! I’m also too free-spirited to work in corporate environments.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in starting your businesses?
Chris: Probably inexperience and ego; inexperience has led to many costly mistakes, and ego has led to many unnecessary head-butts with my team.
Anne: I haven’t lived a day without new challenges since I started Jouer – difficult catering clients, staff management, logistics planning … and I’m still in the process of learning.
As foodies, can you give us the inside scoop on where to shop for ingredients and kitchen gear in Hong Kong?
Chris: Wan Chai Wet Market – it’s so convenient and usually has everything that’s on my shopping list.
Anne: I go to Shing Faat Cowconut Company on Spring Garden Lane for spices and condiments, and Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei for baking equipment.
Finally, how do you think your relationship has changed over the years?
Anne: I’ve gone from seeing Chris as a little brother to a business partner and a comrade who I can discuss work with.
Chris: It’s matured and aged, like a vintage Bordeaux!
Home & Decor
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Butler, 5/F, Mody House, 30 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui 2724 3828
Le Quinze Vins 9 Swatow Street, Wan Chai 2673 7636
Cafe Hay Fever G/F, 62 Flower Market Road, Prince Edward 2397 0638
Kam Wah Cafe G/F, 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward 2392 6830
Yoshi Yoshi Shop H2, 2 Maple Street, Prince Edward 5199 4233
BOUND by Hillywood 32 Boundary Street, Prince Edward 2396 6488
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This article first appeared in the December/January 2017/18 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.