Hong Kong has more than its fair share of visiting celebrity chefs, but people still take notice when Michael White comes to town. White is a titan of Italian cooking and owner of three of the most buzzed about restaurants in New York: Osteria Morini, Ai Fiori and Marea. Even a mention of Marea gets foodies' mouths watering, with images of lardo-wrapped sea urchin dancing in their heads.
White is no stranger to Hong Kong. He opened his Al Molo restaurant at Harbour City in 2011 and lovers of Italian cuisine eagerly await his annual visits.
This year White has hosted a series of dinners for VIPs, the media and friends, culminating in a final dinner on Tuesday evening. He designed a four-course menu of new dishes that highlight his take on Italian home-style cuisine.
As diners ate their way through seared scallops, eggplant gnocchi and roasted veal, White mingled and shared powerful stories of the struggle to persevere after Hurricane Sandy, when two of his restaurants closed.
White is also developing a new type of pizza. Similar to a method used to make sourdough bread, each batch of pizza dough includes a bit of the last batch, all coming from a "mother" dough. This gives the pizza an increasingly fermented flavour. In the words of the chef: "This crust has action!"