Leung creates dishes with the mind of an engineer
Updated: 2013-02-27 09:13
By Rebecca Lo in Hong Kong (China Daily)
Langoustine, in English mustard, with preserved duck egg and black truffle. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Alvin Leung Jr. is the self-proclaimed demon chef with two Michelin stars and no formal training to his credit. He will meet Beijing foodies at an upcoming stint at Raffles in Beijing.
Necessity is the mother of invention. It was the driving force behind a young Alvin Leung, Jr. growing up in Toronto.
"My mother was an awful cook," groans the demon chef and proprietor of two Michelin star Bo Innovation. "She forced us to learn how to fend for ourselves."
Leung recalls that his first dish was spaghetti bolognaise. "I used Campbell tomato soup as a base and added curry powder to make it more interesting. I remember I marinated the beef, too."
In those pre-Yan Can Cook days of the late 60s and early 70s, Toronto supermarkets didn't stock much in the way of exotic ingredients.
Leung experimented with ingredients that were easily available and made simple dishes at first: pasta, steak, apple pie. Western dishes were easier to get ingredients for and a treat for the Chinese youth. He went to his first French restaurant as part of a class trip when he was in grade eight.
"We had frog legs and fillet mignon," he remembers. "I didn't taste foie gras until 20 years ago, when I came to Hong Kong."
Despite his fascination with food, Leung chose to study engineering for a career, first at University of Toronto then in the United Kingdom. He went on to oversee his family's engineering business for 20 years, working as an acoustics engineer.
Meanwhile, Leung began cooking for fun. He hosted elaborate dinner parties. "I was always the black sheep in my family," he says with a laugh. "I had to do things differently."
Ten years ago, a friend asked him to help out with a Sheung Wan restaurant called Bo. He ended up taking it over and rebranding it as Bo Innovation - after many heated arguments with his wife.
"We knew that it would be a big risk," he acknowledges. "Restaurants are financially costly and my wife complains that she became a widow afterward."
But Leung's ego was greater than his wife's temper.