The Demon Chef, X-Treme Chinese and The Condom Dish
You read that right. Chef Alvin Leung’s claim to fame is his infamous creation officially known as ‘Sex on the beach’, and popularly known as the condom dish. The deranged offering has nothing to do with latex, but is a sweet edible creation made by dipping a cigar tube into a kappa and konjac mixture, which (keeping in tune with the conversation) promises to give you a foodgasm. Leung, who has opened Bo Restaurant in Hong Kong, is the self-proclaimed ‘Demon chef’ because of his unique cooking techniques. The three-star Michelin chef, is also a pioneer of X-Treme Chinese, which redefines Chinese food by combining heritage recipes with modern ingredients and techniques.
Leung, one of the only two self-taught chefs to receive a Michelin star, unravels some home truths, tells us what’s in his fridge and talks about X-Treme Chinese.
Your food calling… “I like to challenge people’s expectations, to surprise and excite them. My aim is to have people say ‘That was the best meal I’ve ever had’ and I just work backwards from that.”
On being called a maverick chef… “Maverick is someone who thinks unconventionally, has an independent or unorthodox approach, and that’s how I think. I try to create something novel and innovative, so I don’t mind the name at all.”
Favourite food destination… “Home. I like it when my family cooks for me. Plus, I really enjoy my wife’s cooking.”
The idea behind X-treme Chinese… “My philosophy has always been to pursue innovation in a very modern way while maintaining tradition. People have described it using other terms which have a narrow connotation and I want to avoid such limitations. It’s not just ‘molecular’, and that’s why I call it ‘X-treme Chinese’, which means taking classic dishes and presenting them in a contemporary context, using advanced methods and modern techniques.”
A Michelin star to you is… “I view a Michelin star like a military promotion.”
Your dream restaurant would be… “I haven’t eaten there yet. And I haven’t opened it yet.”
Where do you eat in your hometown (Hong Kong)? “I go to several small local establishments around iconic Wan Chai, where my Hong Kong restaurant Bo Innovation is located. There are small shops, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and some old spaces too. I have a simple congee or a traditional Hong Kong breakfast.”
What do you cook at home? “I rarely cook at home. My wife won’t let me make a mess.”
An ingredient you would never use… “There is no such thing. Nothing is off limits. I don’t restrict myself. A smart chef should be creative and make anything tasty. It’s how you explore the ingredient’s potential.”
In your fridge… “Usually I keep a fully stocked fridge, so I can prepare anything. And there’s always cold beer when I need it.”
A favourite Indian dish… “Dal(s).”
Midnight snacks are… “Everything from caviar on bellini to an instant cup of soup.”
Your weakness is… “Sugar. I am diabetic.”
A kitchen nightmare would be… “A kitchen with poor quality staff is worse than one with poor equipments or ingredients. But if you’re a competent chef you can always turn a nightmare into a dream.”
Chef Alvin Leung will be whipping out a six course meal as part of the Michelin Pop Up at JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu from 25 to 28 November, 2015.