People come to Hong Kong for a lot of reasons, most of the expats here came to work in the finance industry. Yet for Ziggy, he came with a passion for bringing over the authentic Cape Town cuisine with a homely touch, right in your kitchen. Coming from Cape Town and growing up in a baker’s family, the spirited, friendly, and down-to-earth chef found time to cook for team Unseen (it was delightfully delectable), and tell us his vision about dining in Hong Kong.
Thanks so much for cooking for us today Ziggy, it was absolutely tasty. Could you tell us a little bit more about your background?
I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. I was born in a baker’s family and my grandmother was the one who got me obsessed with the art of cooking. Hence since I was a little boy, I have always been burying my hands in the kitchen and experimenting with different ingredients. I was trained in both Italy and France as a baker and chef. I opened a little bakery-café called Baked Bistro back in Cape Town afterward, which served pastries, breakfast, and lunch.
Why did you come to Asia?
As a chef, you always want to explore and look for new inspiration. Asia was a continent that I still hadn’t placed a flag on, and I especially wanted to learn about Asian flavours and textures. I had never been to Hong Kong, but somehow I had a good vibe about it, so I just packed everything up four months ago, booked a flight and came.
How are you liking Hong Kong so far then?
It is a crazy city, and I have certainly fallen in love with it. I love to meet new people and in Hong Kong, you can easily hop to any bar and you can meet so many people in a night. It’s truly an international city here, people all come from diverse backgrounds and different walks of lives. It’s also a vibrant city in which everything is so close, at the same time it has so many hike trails and beaches. Hong Kong is a real beauty and it’s been really fun so far.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
I’d say my cooking is hearty and rustic. And for the past three years, I have been working on fine dining, cooking very refining and artsy dishes. I would experiment with different ingredients and flavours, keeping the traditional cooking style but injecting the dishes with new characters, creating a plate with so much texture that could excite the diners.
What makes a successful chef in your opinion?
I believe that what makes you successful is your obsession, it applies to everything not just cooking indeed. I don’t believe in talent and skills, as long as you have the passion and dedication, you would make it.
For me, I can be in the kitchen for 17 hours and not be feeling exhausted at all. I feel the most comfortable in a kitchen, my creativity just overflows there. Waves of ideas would just hit you when you are busy and keep operating on different components, mix and match with different ingredients, and you will come up with the best new flavour. And oh, being innovative is as crucial as passion when it comes to striving to be a successful chef.
What are your favourite restaurants in Hong Kong?
I hate to say it since they have got so much publicity already, but Little Bao is my go-to hang out spot. I am really addicted to their Pork Belly Bao. As for fine dining, Amber at Landmark would be the destination.
Good news if you want to try out the authentic Cape Town Cuisine! –
Ziggy is now offering private chef sessions in Hong Kong, with the aim of bringing the homely South African cuisine to the city. Send him an email and he would go into your kitchen, with your menu tailor made. Prices start at HK$450. Best for a romantic date or catering for private parties.
We were lucky enough to have him coming to the house and cook for us. The perfectly cooked linguini was topped with tomato sauce, which was intricately curated with chorizo, chilli and fresh basil infused in it. It was so tasty that we couldn’t help but discarded our manner and licked up the whole plate for the sauce!