Ghoulish cuisine

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 February, 1997, 12:00am

Chefs aren't always considered the most colourful bunch of professionals but guests attending the recent Hong Kong Chefs' Association dinner were in for a surprise.

The event was held, not in a stuffy hotel banqueting suite, but in a giant warehouse where diners entered to the sound of the Addams Family theme: cobwebs were draped on the walls; ghosts, goblins and ghouls hung from the ceiling; candles lit the venue; and the waiters were dressed as vampires, blood dripping from their mouths.

The food, prepared by the staff at the Hong Kong Hotel kitchen and devised by Urs Besmer and a committee including luminaries such as Marcus Moore and Florian Trento, began with Homard a la Marie Antoinette - plastic dolls with the tops of their heads cut off, where the 'brains' consisted of lobster and mango salad.

The next course was 'pee' soup, read pea soup. For the main course, waiters wheeled out life-size replicas of children made of bread and the chefs, wielding large knives, hacked off their limbs to reveal tender veal en croute.

The dessert - 'catch of the day' - was a chocolate mousse mouse caught in a real mouse trap with 'blood' (strawberry sauce) oozing from its wounds.

It was, apparently, a really fun party but one can't help but wonder what goes on in chefs' minds as they toil away in steamy kitchens.

A Canadian newspaper recently reported an alarming habit in Victoria's Chinatown: the abuse of Chinese cooking wine. A spokesman for the police department says officers are regularly called to incidents where people have overdosed on the drink. The majority of the victims are homeless and the growing problem has prompted calls for the wine to be sold only in liquor stores and not on shelves as a cooking ingredient.

The trend towards wholesome eating continues with the opening of Lan Kwai Fong's latest vitamin-bulging vegetarian venue, the Source of Health (2-18 D'Aguilar Street).

The 70-seater upstairs deli area (opening next week hopefully) and downstairs takeaway (now in operation) is the first of a chain.

The venture is 'part of an $8.5 million investment project aimed at filling a gap in the Hong Kong market for organic restaurants and truly healthy alternatives, using sources that are grown without pesticides and only natural fertilisers'.

The main investor, Karmau Shiu, who owns a large organic farm in the New Territories, says: 'It's all about having a whole natural ecosystem, about taking a big picture look at planting and harvesting, about working with the rhythms of nature.' Working with the food will be executive chef Blair Sweet, an American who has worked at Dan Ryan's. He'll be producing soups, vegetable stews, organic pizzas and pastries.