In our Chef’s Special feature, three HK chefs spill the beans on everything from their favourite ingredients to cook with, to the guilty late-night snack they can’t resist after a busy service. In this instalment, we shine the spotlight on DEVON HOU, Group Executive Chef at Feste Group – Relish & Gingers catering services and Head Chef of Relish.
Tell us a bit about where you work and the cuisine you cook.
At Relish, we don’t only cater to one specific cuisine but rather cuisines from all over the world. Our focus is more on produce and sustainability. In a city as ethnically diverse as Hong Kong, we tailor our menus to suit the tastes of everyone but in a way that is sophisticated and innovative, and has our own twist to it. And, as we also do bespoke menus, it really depends on the event – which makes it more fun for me to experiment with different flavour profiles.
Gingers, on the other hand, combines international cuisines with local Asian flavours. We have a more standardised set of menus that most of our clients know and love. If people are looking for something different, our Seasonal Menu is updated every few months to feature ingredients that we know will be fresh and delicious.
What’s one of your signature dishes, and is it hard to cook?
Chocolate spiced marinated short ribs with chimichurri and sherry padron peppers. For the most part, I think the dish is not that hard to cook – as long as you have the recipe and all the equipment ready.
How did you get started in cooking, and where have you worked in the past?
The first person who taught me how to cook and made me actually like cooking was my home economics teacher, Ms Chiu. She was the one who advised me to go for it as a career path and become a chef.
Since culinary school, I got my start at Amber in Landmark Mandarin Oriental, then continued on to work at The Upper House, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Tate Dining Room, The Goring Hotel in London, Test Kitchen, and more recently at Cobo House.
Favourite place to eat around town?
Definitely Kozy. Usually after a long day’s work, I love to have a teppanyaki supper there with an ice cold beer. What do you like to cook at home after a big night of service? I love to cook carbonara. It’s easy, tasty and always my comfort food.
What’s your guilty pleasure as far as fast food or eating out goes?
I love to eat all the evil foods – cheese, chocolate, snacks … but I also have high cholesterol! What’s the most underrated kitchen utensil? Maybe chopsticks? It’s a very Asian thing to use, but we use it for everything.
Favourite three ingredients to cook with?
Beef chuck from my favourite local butcher, Spanish pork, and chocolate! Is there any ingredient or food that people might be surprised to hear you don’t like?
I don’t like tomatoes and bell peppers, but I always challenge myself to make something I hate and transform it into something delicious.
What’s an ingredient you see becoming trendy in the next year or so?
Dried seafood is seldom used in Western cuisine but I think people are starting to catch on and it will become more of a trend.
Where do you like to shop for ingredients in Hong Kong?
What’s one tip that might be helpful for amateur cooks?
Be humble and always do your very best. Cherish every opportunity, no matter how big or small.
What can diners look forward to from Relish and Gingers this year?
We will be doing various kinds of in-house pop-up events this year at Relish restaurant so be on the lookout for that! We’re constantly researching, studying and testing new concepts so this will be a great way to have some fun and create some novel food experiences.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.