Top chefs left toques at home

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 August, 2010, 12:00am

US President Barack Obama's will be there, and so will Britain's Queen Elizabeth's and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's.

The chefs responsible for the meals of some of the world's most powerful people are gathering in Hong Kong this week.

Cooking is not on their menu, though the chefs, who serve the heads of state of 19 countries, will share their experience with aspiring young chefs in the city.

The visitors, who include four from Beijing's Great Hall of the People, are in town for the Club de Chefs des Chefs' annual gathering. The club, founded by French couturier Gilles Bragard in 1977, is spending four days in Hong Kong - with a side trip to Macau tomorrow - before making a four-day visit to Beijing.

Club vice-president Mark Flanagan, the head cook for Queen Elizabeth, said the visit to Hong Kong was the first after he became a member of the club eight years ago.

While the army of chefs will be taking a break from working in the kitchen, they will talk about food along the way, including during a visit to the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute to share their experiences with the students there.

'This is something that we do, to try to encourage people into our profession,' Flanagan said. He said he would remind the students not to overcomplicate their cooking, because they would 'lose the essence of the food'. That is one of the principles he sticks to when cooking for the queen, who prefers simple food.

Last night, the chefs also had an opportunity to talk shop as they dined with some 200 people at a HK$1,388-per-head gala dinner at the Mandarin Oriental.

Today the chefs will sample the fare of Michelin two-star restaurant Amber, and on Saturday they will fly to Beijing.