Philippe Labbe

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 December, 2009, 12:00am

What foods do you enjoy when travelling in Asia?

'This is my third time visiting Hong Kong. I enjoy Chinese regional specialities most, especially Cantonese dim sum and [the food served at] lavish banquets. Some of my favourites are those nourishing Chinese soups and Shanghai crabs. In Singapore, I liked black pepper crabs. In Tokyo, I indulged in sushi, soba, tofu, Kobe beef, shabu shabu, tempura and teppanyaki.'

Are there any Hong Kong restaurants that have surprised you? 'Bo Innovation's 'extreme Chinese cuisine' astonishes me and my favourite dish was the spaghetti with 36-month-aged Iberico ham with ginger tea. Although I don't like all molecular gastronomy creations, the food at Bo is good. I think its culinary concept would work in France.'

Describe your style of cooking. 'I consider my cuisine a mix of classic and modern. I use traditional recipes but do much lighter sauces and tend to change the presentation. I love to experiment with new ideas and try out a variety of cooking methods. My signature royal sea bream reflects my preference [for] doing lighter sauces and adding herbs, fruits and edible flowers.'

What is it you like so much about tomatoes and truffles? 'Tomatoes are versatile. You can do very nice French dishes with tomatoes. I like to [use] tomato juice with different flowers, herbs and fruit. Black truffles are better [than white] because you can either cook them or eat them raw. You can only eat white truffles raw. I like to infuse truffles into my meat, fish and vegetarian dishes.'

What do you think are the qualities needed to be a great French chef? 'You must be hard-working and invest lots of personal time to perfect your techniques. Be adventurous in trying different ways of cooking and using unusual ingredients. Seize the chance to work with and learn from great master chefs. In addition, you must have basic wine knowledge to create good food and wine pairing menus.'