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Clockwise from above: Aged


Mandarin sea bass; interior of Tate;


Autumn Dreams (choux pastry with pumpkin ice cream and


honey ice cream); Wreth (poached gillardeau oyster)


and it is not machine made.” She found in food a medium where she could communicate stories not on paper, but on the plate – hence “edible stories”.


The surprise element


Plating a dish is something Lau relishes: “I think design has helped me to communicate on a plate. What graphics does – let’s say designing a logo – is taking all of the ideas for a brand and putting them into a logo or a piece of paper. “The process is quite similar to the one you go through when you present a plate. Now, it’s just about changing the paper into a plate. What are you representing? What are you trying to communicate on this plate? Why are you putting these ingredients together?” “At the back of your head you have to think about all of those questions. I’m not saying all the dishes have to be put together that way. But that’s just my style. Maybe I think a lot about it, that’s why I think it’s necessary for me to understand why you assemble those ingredients, and use that temperature, or texture. In that way, design helps me communicate. It also helps me to focus a lot on details as a way to present things, to pay attention to colour and examine how to surprise people.” I point out the great difference in tangibility between her new vocation and her old one


24


“I feel happy with just a small space, a small outlet where I can just express myself and have people around who enjoy it as I do”


of print media. “When food is consumed, it disappears. Does food have to stay? It doesn’t have to, especially nowadays when everything is documented with photos and social media. It’s not like something will be lost, if it is gone.” Lau has certainly established a clear sense of style in the two-and-a-half years since Tate Dining Room opened. The 26-seater restaurant – just 900 sq ft – usually has a long waiting list at the weekends, but Lau prefers to keep everything small. She admits she will be moving the restaurant to a slightly bigger space because it has outgrown its kitchen, but still intends to keep Tate’s seating to fewer than 30 people.


“I feel happy with just a small space, a small outlet where I can just express myself and have people around who enjoy it as I do. I really want to promote local talent and local culture. Having that in mind, this is something that’s better to do in Hong Kong, not abroad.”


When asked what other dreams she still has


to achieve, Lau shares an idea that’s been brewing in her head: “I want to bring more of a cultural presence in Hong Kong. The younger crowd has lost interest in culture. I think there is a real need to bring that back. I have plans in my head later on to bring more of that to life, to bring about more awareness, and bring back the passion.


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