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The storyteller


For Vicky Lau, every aspect of her food at Tate Dining Room in Hong Kong should tell a story. Justine Cordero meets the designer-turned-chef and discovers how she uses food as a way to communicate


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or Vicky Lau, chef and owner of Hong Kong’s Tate Dining Room, each dish should be an “edible story”. The mission statement from Veuve Clicquot Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015 is reflected in dishes such as Zen Garden, one of Lau’s earliest creations and the last course of both the Sensualist and Gastronomy menus. A dessert made of matcha mousseline, passion fruit mousse, dacquoise and sake kasu cream, it is presented to customers as a mini-garden, and the chef invites diners to pause for some moments of “self-reflection”. With each dish beautifully plated, the


34 year-old describes her style of cuisine as “very detailed, and has much storytelling”, and she does not deny that her dishes have a distinct femininity about them: “Yes, it is very feminine, and very dainty. It is definitely very art directed.” She holds a degree in graphic communications from New York University and has been a creative director for a design agency, but turned her attention to food after becoming disillusioned with the creative processes. “At the time I was doing design, I felt like something was missing. A lot of designers end up designing for water, shampoo and other commercial items. That was not their intention, but they ended up doing that in order to survive.”


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Lau’s first job as a graphic designer was working for a children’s book company. She recounts: “You see all of these beautiful illustrations that are hand-drawn. They would be scanned. Paper sculptures would get photographed, scanned, and then reproduced. Something, I think, got lost in the process of being reproduced.”


Feeling the void in her career, Lau decided to head back to Hong Kong to start a project with her sister. While the project did not pan out, Lau was certain she wanted to incorporate a different aspect of design in her life. She joined two of her friends in attending Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School in Bangkok. Her intention was to do a three-month course, but falling in love with cooking led her to complete the entire nine-month grand diploma course. Curious about the intricacies of fine dining


restaurants, she worked in Cépage, a Michelin- starred restaurant by Les Amis Groups in Hong Kong. Then, barely three years ago, she set out to open Tate Dining Room to satisfy her desire to combine her knowledge of design, food, and the business side of cooking. “Nowadays, food is still very much crafted by


hands,” Lau muses. “I really enjoy that. There is still the human touch, a connection with nature,


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