The Future is Hong Kong

Food evolves.

Hong Kong is pure energy. Every part of the city seems to be hurling into uncharted territory. So what keeps the intoxication from tipping into full-fledged drunkenness? A deeply rooted sense of history. Massive Buddha statues and food stalls rub elbows with state-of-the-art subway systems and sparkling skyscrapers. The culinary scene in Hong Kong is no exception. The cigar-smoking Michelin chef Alvin Leung serves beautiful modern cuisine at Bo Innovation, while down the street a grandmother is selling some of the most amazing dim sum you’ll ever eat out of a food stall. The contrasts end up working together to give Hong Kong—and its cuisine—the feeling of being groundbreaking and fully grounded at the same time.

All this to say that innovation is built on a strong foundation. And our chefs had to learn that on the fly this week. Not only did they need to create truly innovative food, they needed to satisfy locals with an understanding of the region’s complex flavors. 

Food evolves. Think back when food presentation went vertical. Chefs were scrambling to create gravity-defying towers of protein; diners went wild. The same is going on with molecular gastronomy today. Whether they’re using agars and liquid nitrogen or sous vide techniques, chefs are changing what we think of food. Just look at how the Demon Chef’s tasting menu invigorated our chefs. They were practically skipping out the door of Bo Innovation.But brilliant innovation isn’t in the nitrogen container. It’s understanding the food you’re working with enough that you can turn it on its head. I loved John’s enthusiasm for making lime snow, but in his excitement, he forgot that the whole plate needed to hang together. And more importantly, that snow melts when it hits a hot plate. Nicole had the opposite problem. Too insecure to try something new, her Smoked Duck with Green Tea and Squid Noodles was tasty but too boring and safe by comparison. Congratulations to Avery for striking the right balance of flavors and truly surprising presentation in the Mango Coulis, Ginger Cookie with Lemongrass-Coconut Sphere.

 

Best of luck, Nicole.  For the rest of us, let’s go to South America!

 

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Final Destination

Curtis Stone explains the importance of traveling for a chef.

 

We’ve reached the finale! What an amazing journey we’ve had. 10 countries in 44 days, and at last we have our final two. Congratulations to Avery and Liz! This wasn’t an easy competition and getting to the finish line is quite an accomplishment. 

But first, we had Uruguay. I’ve said it often in this blog: Nookie played this game like a pro. But while there were similarities to Survivor, this competition was at its heart about great food. I was so glad to see Avery choose Liz for her Los Angeles opponent. As she said, when it came to the final showdown, she wanted to go up against someone who would bring everything she had to the table and treat the food with integrity. That sure describes Liz. 

I think the final challenge to make three dishes, inspired by their travels was perfect. I believe every chef should travel as much and as often as possible. It’s a beautiful way to learn and be inspired and expand your palate and sensibilities. Back in their own kitchens, chefs then can creatively integrate the foreign flavors into dishes that speak to all corners of the globe while also catering to the palate of their own culture. It’s how food evolves with respect and reverence.Of course, Avery and Liz had to cater to the palates of some seriously extraordinary chefs. Melisse’s two-star Michelin chef Josiah Citrin, James Beard winners Brendan Collins and Carolos Tomazos from Waterloo & City, and of course the legendary Wolfgang Puck, who has both designations under his belt. 

Both Avery and Liz did an outstanding job. In the end, just four votes made the difference. Avery has been such a superstar throughout this competition and Liz has shown an incredible passion for food. A huge round of applause to Avery and all of our chefs. Your culinary journey around the world is only beginning.