Hong Kong Jockey Club at Happy Valley, Hong Kong, was quite a happening place last week. This was because Montreal-based celebrity chef Chuck Hughes was here to mesmerise his guests, including the media, with his exceptional culinary talent. He played host to an exclusive dining event for selected people. I am thankful to the American Express and the Asian Food Channel, for inviting me as a part of the media to sample the food cooked by him right in front of us!
If you are a fan of Celebrity Chef Series on Asian Food Channel (AFC), reason for you to smile! The series returns this month once again and will be showcasing Chuck Hughes who will make cooking an easy-going and fun-filled experience for his fans! AFC broadcasts on “now TV”, channel 527, in Hong Kong.
Chuck emphasised on cooking with fresh and quality ingredients. As he cooked food for his guests, I noticed his confidence in his cooking skills and playfulness with his ingredients. The dishes demonstrated were easy, less time-consuming and tasted scrumptious! I particularly loved the dessert very much: tasting absolutely out-of-the-world with a touch of style!
Speaking about style, Chuck Hughes has a positive and a truly magnetic personality. His sense of humour is something which comes naturally to him. In his first dish (popcorn shrimp) which he cooked in front of us, he used honey as an ingredient. When one of my journalist friends enquired about which kind of honey to use, he innocently replied, “Canadian!”, before telling us the actual answer, which set everyone laughing!
The featured recipes were:
- Popcorn Rock Shrimp with Spicy Honey
- Pan-Seared Beef Carpaccio with Potato Chips, Fried Capers and Lemon Aioli
- Chocolate Tapioca Arancini
These dishes are one of his most popular dishes. So I was really inquisitive on how he makes them!
The first dish was deep-fried shrimps with a crunchy coating. I loved the spicy honey which the chef prepared to drizzle over the shrimps. It was simple, unique and flavourful. The spicy honey was infused with garlic, peppercorns, chilli flakes, smoked paprika and sea salt. I noticed that he loved adding citrus zest in his dishes, which really added a subtle flavour and aroma to his treats.
The second dish was classy. The beef was succulent and not overcooked. First, he coated the beef tenderloin with crushed coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, kosher salt, black pepper and oil (we use the same spices to marinate meat in India as well!). He made a terrific lemon aioli to go with it, which is basically an emulsion of spices and beaten egg in olive oil. Here too, he added lemon zest for a refreshing flavour. I must say, I never had such lemon aioli before, so tasty and made in minutes! The presentation with spinach leaves, fried capers and potato chips made it all the more inviting.
Frankly, I was eagerly waiting for the final dish, as it was a dessert and I am highly sweet-toothed. I never tried experimenting much with tapioca before, but now I am definitely going to explore with tapioca in my upcoming recipes on Cosmopolitan Currymania. Thanks, Chuck Hughes, for inspiring me! He deep fried a mixture of soaked tapioca, cream and milk by making small balls out of them. Not only that, the balls were oozing with sinful chocolate ganache filling, which gave the dish a level of its own!
Cosmopolitan Currymania would like to thank American Express and the Asian Food Channel for highlighting cooking as an art and for introducing Hong Kong to such amazing talents. I really learnt a lot of culinary nuances from him in that event. Full of life and having a down-to-earth personality, the chef is an exemplary that with hard work and enthusiasm, only sky is the limit!
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