I’m very, very excited to bring you today’s post. Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to London and interview one of the world’s most influential chefs. Ken Hom has been taking the world by storm with his innovative cooking techniques and creative fusion foods. He introduced authentic Chinese cooking to the UK and made it a household favourite to the point that 1 in 7 UK households now own a Ken Hom Wok!
Ken was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire OBE by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the culinary arts in 2009, has written more than 30 recipe books and continues to travel the world bringing inspiration and innovation to the culinary arts. I was absolutely honoured to be able to have some time with Ken to discuss his work and share with you some wisdom from one of the world’s top chefs. I asked you last week what you would like to ask a professional chef and you gave me some questions via my Facebook Page and Instagram. Here’s Ken’s answers…
What is your recipe development process? Do you start with a flavour combination idea, or a dish idea or something else?
Usually my recipes are inspired by a lot of food that I eat. I’ll eat something and think “God that’s a good idea” and go from there! That’s why I think eating is so important for a chef! And then of course I change it to my preferences, say, if I found something too spicy or bland, but the idea was good, that’s how I develop. Then what I usually do, because I’ve been writing for so long, is I have a rough idea of what proportions go into something and then I would do a mock up of the recipe and then I would test it. Then I hire someone to cook through the recipe as well, giving me feedback, was it clear that I said this or that, was the seasoning right, and they would tell me what was wrong, or right with it. That’s the only way a book will ever sell because at the end of the day the recipes have to work, if they don’t work that’s no good.
Is there a certain cuisine or flavour combination that you find particularly inspiring?
That’s interesting, I usually see Chinese as my foundation and from there I do Italian and I do French, I do Moroccan cooking but obviously things that I’ve learned from the basics of Chinese cooking has propelled me. Even my Italian food tastes a little bit Asian! Actually I wrote the first book on what they call now fusion cooking in the early 80’s, because I was doing exactly that, I call it East meets West cuisine and I couldn’t help it!
Did food and cooking change for you after it became your career?
I think my cooking evolved the most when I started travelling a lot. I got to go to places like Japan, Middle Asia, Thailand, these are places I didn’t know and it opened up new vistas for me which was great, new flavours that I didn’t ever grow up with. I was totally smitten by all these wonderful flavours and smells that I didn’t even know about! So the great thing about what I do as a career in food is that I just find it such a vast world, that I’m constantly discovering new things and that I love, it turns me on a lot! I mean I live in South West France now, and it’s not a culture I grew up with but it’s a culture that I made so many discoveries with, it’s just great!
Do you have a favourite comfort food to cook at home?
Yes, I do! I do my Mum’s Chinese sausage steamed with rice which I top with a fried egg and drizzle with oyster sauce. That’s real comfort food!
Do you have a favourite place to buy ingredients and how do you choose them?
Well I always like to go to different places. I’m lucky to live near markets that are good, in Paris I live near one of the most interesting food markets, in Thailand I live in the midst of great food and my cooking is market inspired. In other words, I don’t have a conceived notion of what I’m going to make, I like to see something and think “Ah! Broad beans are in season” so I’d think of maybe stir frying that with bacon, some pasta and chilli and garlic!
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Ken for taking the time to speak with me and answer some questions, it means so much as a food blogger to be able to discuss my passion for recipe development and seasonal food with a true inspirer! If you would like to find out more about Ken and his work, please take a visit to his website KenHom.com