Cheung Long Yin – Executive Chinese Chef at Shang Palace
Chef Cheung Long Yin holds the prestigious position of Executive Chef at the two-Michelin-starred Shang Palace in the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel in Hong Kong. Previously, he was Master Chef at The Hong Kong Jockey Club, and spent 14 years at The Peninsula Hong Kong. From a young age he trained in traditional Cantonese cuisine at famous local Chinese restaurants and has more than 30 years of culinary experience.
We chat to Chef Cheung about his background and the evolution of Chinese food in Hong Kong.
By Victoria Burrows
You took up your role as executive chef at the Michelin two-starred Shang Palace less than a year ago – congratulations – what was that like? Do the stars add extra pressure?
I believe there’s a certain level of pressure working at every five-star restaurant, and there is definitely more pressure serving at a Michelin two-starred restaurant. However, pressure gives me motivation.
What do you think makes an exceptional restaurant?
This depends on the food you serve. If you want your customers to remember your restaurant, there must be an ingredient or dish that tempts them – a signature dish they like and can’t find anywhere else. If they crave that dish, they will think of your restaurant. In addition, impeccable service and a comfortable ambience are equally important.
You have worked at some of Hong Kong’s most esteemed restaurants. At which restaurant would you say you learned the most and why?
I’ve learned different things at each restaurant. For instance, I learned how to manage a team when I was with the Hong Kong Jockey Club; when I was with The Peninsula, I learned the morals of being a chef – the codes of conduct and principles of right and wrong. I bring with me what I learned and experienced from all these years to Shang Palace.
In the more than 30 years you’ve been cooking, have you seen Chinese food in Hong Kong change in any way?
Chefs nowadays can easily source ingredients from all over the world. At Shang Palace, we would not just use Chinese ingredients, but also ingredients from other cuisines if they are of higher quality or offer a distinctive taste.
Because of this, many restaurants offer fusion dishes. To me, the most important, yet most challenging, thing is to ensure that the authentic taste of the dish is preserved.
Your accolades include a Distinction Gold Award for Appetisers at the 10th Asian Culinary Exchange 2016, a Gold with Distinction Award at Gourmet Master Chef 2014 and a Gold award for Creative Appetiser at the Modern Chinese Cuisine Challenge of Hong Kong International Culinary Classic HOFEX 2013. What’s the most important thing you have learned that has made you into such a talented and successful chef?
I would not say I’m a successful chef, but I would always remind myself of three traits one must possess to become a good chef: strong management skills, good morals and cooking talent.
What made you first decide to become a chef? Was it unusual for a young man in Hong Kong to decide to become a chef? Were family and friends supportive of you?
My father always asked me to cook for the family when I was young. I would go to the market to buy the ingredients, prepare and cook the food. I was very satisfied to see that they were happy with the food I cooked. I wasn’t good at school when I was young, but wanted to find a talent I could excel in. My cousin was a chef and inspired me to become a chef.
What would you say to a young man or woman now who is about to make the decision to become a chef?
I would advise him or her to attend cooking school to learn the basics and think deeply about whether he or she is passionate about this industry.
Thank you, Chef Cheung! It’s been a pleasure speaking to you and we’re looking forward to being back in Hong Kong and dining at Shang Palace again soon.
Take also a look at this wonderful recipe Chef Cheung Long Yin shared with us: