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Chef Interviews

Chef Interview: Chef Nicola Canuti at the InterContinental Hong Kong

The InterContinental Hong Kong is home to some of the most locally respected restaurants in town, including the Michelin-award-winning Yan Toh Heen and Spoon by Alain Ducasse. Leading its highly talented culinary team is Executive Chef Nicola Canuti, a friendly chap brimming with verve and confidence. He shares with us his passion for gastronomy and his job at the hotel.

 

Can you tell us about your background?

I’m from Mantova in Northern Italy, that was where I started my career over 20 years ago. Since then I have worked in various parts of the world including France, London, Singapore and Russia.  I’ve worked with chefs like Alain Ducasse, Marco Pierre White, Roger Verger and Gordon Ramsay. I joined InterContinental Hong Kong in 2013.

 

What are your main responsibilities at the hotel?

Our hotel has an array of eateries from Japanese to steak house to French to Chinese. I look after everything related to food here, from sourcing and testing ingredients to training chefs.  
 

How do you describe your culinary philosophy?

Ingredients are key to a great dish, so I always look for fresh seasonal produce. Of course, you have to be passionate about what you do as well.

 

Do you use advanced technology in your cooking?

We do, but only when necessary. We know Hong Kong diners have a liking for fusion cuisine, but for me, it’s vital to be authentic. For example, if I order a foie gras dish, I'll want to see a piece of foie gras on the plate! That said, we do use advanced tools to elevate our dishes.

 

How do you cope with the pressure in the kitchen?

Pressure isn’t always bad for the kitchen. In a way it drives us to deliver the high standard which our restaurants are known for. But if there’s too much of it, we’ll communicate with each other. Respect for teammates is key.
 

What do you think is the biggest difference between Western and Eastern cuisines?

I think every culinary culture is closely linked to the people. As long as the food is made with passion, it’ll turn out to be good. Although I’m from Italy, I like both Western and Eastern cuisines.
 

What do you think of the dining scene in Hong Kong?

It’s great and certainly thriving. A lot of international chefs have come to the city and I think that’s a huge boost to the scene here.  
 

What are your favourite Chinese dishes?

Dim sum and Peking Duck.
 

What’s your plan for this year?

We always strive to create something special for our diners.  Each of our restaurants will deliver new and creative dishes this year, so stay tuned with us for the latest update.

 

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