Beginning his culinary career in his native city of Hong Kong at the young age of 16, Chef Tam spent much of his young honing his skill for the culinary arts. Recognized for relishing a good challenge, Tam was presented with an opportunity to work in Thailand in the 1990s, where he went on to work in the kitchens of two of Bangkok’s most prestigious hotels, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and The Peninsula Bangkok.
Chef Tam comments, “I have had the opportunity to look after many heads of state, royal families and diplomats during my career. As a chef, it is very much like working in a palace. I believe in constantly challenging and evolving myself to stay innovative because the food industry is much like the fashion world – you have to stay on top of the latest trends. Guests today demand dishes of the highest quality and want food from organic farms, so I spend a majority of my time sourcing the best produce and tailor-making dishes that are best suited to guests’ palates.”
After joining The Peninsula Bangkok in 1998, Chef Tam remained the renowned hotel’s Executive Chinese Chef for almost a decade, overseeing all of the Chinese cuisine offered at the hotel. During his time here, Tam seized the opportunity to challenge himself further and competed in the fifth World Championship of Chinese Cooking in 2005 in Guangdong, China. This event saw Chef Tam compete against the world’s greatest Chinese chefs and as recognition of his true culinary prowess, Tam was awarded a Gold Medal.
In 2007, Chef Tam jumped at the opportunity to return to his Chinese roots and joined Crown Macau, followed by the City of Dreams, where he successfully garnered many more highly-coveted culinary awards. Throughout his gastronomic journey, Tam also served a host of dignitaries from politicians to royal families – which was indeed a great honor for the chef.
Now, Chef Tam brings his culinary inspirations to Wing Lei Palace, where he artfully designs dishes that are tailored to the palates of each guest. His delicate works of culinary art are pure and natural, full of fresh and healthy ingredients and sprinkled lightly with herbs that are in harmony with the seasons. He presents each new dish with an innovative flair, yet is careful to preserve the rich traditions of Cantonese cooking.
Describe your culinary philosophy:
Honest, Natural, Classy, Enthusiastic.
What is your greatest inspiration?
Life is a series of lessons, and I find inspiration through learning from my daily life – from frequent visits to the local fresh markets where I’m exposed to an abundance of produce and seafood, exchanging ideas with my fellow peers in the culinary industry, and communicating with guests in Wing Lei Palace.
The rich traditions of Cantonese cooking also inspire me in how I create my dishes. If it can fly, walk or crawl, or if it grows out of the ground, we can turn it into food. Being a chef is a pretty magical profession. It is not only about skills and techniques, but also tapping into these original philosophies to turn every single ingredient that enters our hands into edible works of art, and the possibilities are endless.
In Cantonese cooking, the ingredients must be fresh and in harmony with the season. It is important to be open-minded to source any possible best-quality and seasonal ingredients from around the world. For example, I have recently used Te Mana lamb from New Zealand to prepare the ‘Roasted rack of New Zealand lamb with cumin’. Te Mana lamb has emerged from an unprecedented 10-year program with specifically bred in the New Zealand high country.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
I would love to eat at an authentic Italian restaurant in South Italy. I have always loved Italian cuisine, and I think it is somehow similar to Chinese cuisine in the sense that they are both rooted in the long and rich history and humanities of their counties, and that both are perfectly fitted for family sharing. Both cuisines boast a wide range of dishes in styles ranging from casual street food to fine dining that appeals to everyone.
What FOUR things would you take to a desert island?
Water, clothing, fishing equipment, cooking tool.
- Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 (No. 36) – Wing Lei Palace, Macau, China
- Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Restaurant 2019 – Wing Lei Palace, Macau, China
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