HONG KONG: When the Michelin guide announced that Chan Yan-tak had become the first Chinese chef to get a top ranking of three stars, a scrum of local journalists hurried out of the news conference and jumped into taxis to seek out an interview…
The world’s big Michelin-starred names – the Robuchons, Ramsays and Ducasses – generally achieve success by breaking free of former employers and opening eponymous restaurants, followed by offshoots, cookbooks, TV shows and other trappings of the celebrity chef.
Chan, a stout, plain-spoken man in his late 50s, has done none of these things. It was only because of an odd stroke of luck that he was in contention at all: He had already quit the industry to be a stay-at-home dad when, in 2002, the Four Seasons began looking for a master Cantonese chef for its new hotel here and coaxed him out of retirement.
The fact that the world’s best-known restaurant guide had practically ignored one of the world’s best-known cuisines until now was not lost on Jean-Luc Naret, the Michelin Guide’s director. The guide had been criticized in past years for not giving due credit to top Japanese and American restaurants, and Naret did not want this to happen with its first ranking on Chinese soil.
“We followed Mr. Chan for years, before he went to the Four Seasons,” Naret said. “We went to Lung King Heen 12 times this year.”
Michelin is famously terse in its write-ups. It affords one sentence to Lung King Heen’s harbor view and interiors, and one to its food. “Ingredients here are of the highest quality – particularly the seafood, which is impeccably fresh; all dishes are expertly crafted, nicely balanced and enticingly presented.”