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Western chefs whip up new chances in Asia

Updated: 2013-01-31 09:56
By David Watkins in Hong Kong ( China Daily)
Western chefs whip up new chances in Asia

A member of the Iceland team prepares food during the Bocuse d'Or (Golden Bocuse) competition, at the 14th World Cuisine contest, in Lyon, central France on Tuesday. The contest, a sort of world cup of the cuisine world, was started in 1987. Laurent Cipriani / Associated Press

An increasing number of Western chefs are looking to Asia to offset the dreary economies of the United States and Europe, but the recipe for Eastern success depends on more than simply exporting expertise.

"What works in New York does not necessarily work in Hong Kong," said Sandeep Sekhri, whose company, Dining Concepts, manages a stable of restaurants in the Chinese city and Macao that include ventures with Mario Batali and New York chef Michael White.

Last year, Batali opened a $3.2 million version of his famed New York family-style restaurant, Lupa, in Hong Kong's high-rent Central district.

Like its Manhattan counterpart, it offers dishes such as ricotta gnocchi with sausage and fennel, and veal-lined saltimbocca. But its glossy take on Roman trattoria fare makes for a higher-end ambience.

"People in Asia expect a higher comfort level. It needs to be a little bit more plush," said Sekhri, who is managing director of Dining Concepts and said that more Batali projects are in the pipeline.

With Asia's economies in better shape than those in the eurozone and the US, "someone who wouldn't speak to us three, four or five years ago is now much more willing to talk", said Sekhri of the so-called celebrity chefs.

The company, which last year posted gross annual revenue of $65 million, also boasts ventures with Michelin-starred chefs Sergi Arola from Spain and Australia's Greg Malouf.


Western chefs whip up new chances in Asia

Western chefs whip up new chances in Asia

Soap beans, silver ears and peach gum

Hidden dragons, crouching tigers 

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