CHINESE FOOD TRIES TO ENGAGE THE MIND, NOT JUST THE PALATTE, TO PROVOKE THE INTELLECT
MCP: Where were you working before coming to Pakistan?
CY: Since 2000, I have been working at different places. I was in Doha, Qatar for two years, then worked in Ajman, Dubai for four years and moved to Saudi Arabia as a private Chef for people’s home. I moved to Australia for a couple of months then went to Singapore and India, and now finally I am in Pakistan.
MCP: When did you realize that you want to be a chef?
CY: During the time when I graduated from high school, there were no such careers to choose from. On the recommendation of two of my cousins who themselves were Chefs, I chose Hotel Management and started my career from a hotel in China.
MCP: How did your profession turned into passion?
CY: I love food and I love cooking. Years went by, and I learned a lot in this field and this is how my profession turned into my passion.
MCP: What made you decide to work in Pakistan and not for your home country?
CY: Since I started working, I had a dream to work all around the world. So, when I was applying for jobs online; I saw Pakistan as an option and instantly applied for it.
MCP: What is the most essential item/tool in your kitchen?
CY: Chinese Wok is the most essential utensil to cook Chinese food.
MCP: Do you critique on other’s food?
CY: I do! I fix their mistakes; so that they make it better, the next time.
MCP: How do you choose supplies for your kitchen? What are the staple ingredients that are must in your pantry?
CY: To cook Chinese food, the ingredients need to be fresh. Most of the ingredients are needed to be imported from China. But luckily, we have a lot of Chinese suppliers here, to provide us with the fresh ingredients.
MCP: Why is it important to add a specified and measured quantity of ingredients to create a phenomenal dish?
CY: Every single ingredient needs to be measured accurately to create a phenomenal dish. The taste would vary if spices or sauces are not accurate. For example, if we are making a steamed fish, we should use minimal ingredients to maintain the taste of it.
MCP: What is your regular comfort meal?
CY: I am a health conscious person, I mostly eat steamed food.
MCP: What is the most challenging ingredient to work with?
CY: Seafood is the biggest challenge for me to work with. Even though Karachi is a city by the sea, but, we don’t get enough supplies for live fish or prawns. In other countries, I used to get fresh supplies of seafood; hence it was easy for me to handle them my way.
MCP: Do you change your menu more often for variations?
CY: Yes, I change it according to the season.
MCP: What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
CY: I have friends who are working in Dubai, Hong Kong, and other parts of the world. I stay connected with them, share experiences, unique food trends, and a lot more.
MCP: How does the traditional way of serving a meal in your home differ from our customs?
CY: It depends on the environment, if we serve the food in an authentic Chinese style here, it is a possibility that people will not enjoy or appreciate it much. Hence, we alter it according to the customs here.
MCP: What do you do to ensure the quality of the food going out to customers?
CY: We are working under strict quality control. The food which is presented to the guest is tasted by me first. If I feel good about it, then we are good to go otherwise we cook it again.
MCP: Your personal favorite restaurant?
CY: Golden Dragon Boat, Singapore.
MCP: Tell us about your best creation so far?
CY: From the past six years, I have been creating something every single day in my Kitchen. Pakistani people have a taste for sweet and sour combination, both. Keeping this in mind, I have created Chili Honey Sauce which is not available in any other restaurant.
MCP: Tell us about an accomplishment that you are the most proud of, in your career?
CY: While I was working in Dubai, I got an opportunity to work with a French Chef. He taught me a lot of things and his praises during that tenure are something that I am proud of.
MCP: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
CY: I couldn’t think of anything else, except being a Chef.
MCP: Where do you see yourself in next five years, what are your future plans?
CY: I will continue to work in Pakistan as I like working here.
MCP: What do you think about food industry of Pakistan?
CY: Pakistani food is very spicy and oily, it is necessary to re-invent and re-create the dishes. Also, more and more people should do Hotel Management to make the food industry bigger and better.
MCP: An important tip for the readers?
CY: Make sure you cook authentic Chinese food. When you are cooking at home, you see the recipes from the Internet which are not authentic and you end up losing the taste of it.