Part the steam; come into the kitchen on Boxing Day at Government House, where Chris Patten is cooking the traditional Governor's Trifle. Follow Baroness Dunn home after a day in the Lords, and you will find she can only prepare one hot dish - scrambled eggs, which often ends up in the bin (although Simon Murray claims his scrambled eggs have won prizes). Spend a day with Jackie Chan and you will discover he prefers bread to instant noodles. If you want to know me, they say, come live with me. Hong Kong Cooks, a charity book in aid of the Heep Hong Society for Handicapped Children, brings readers right into the kitchen with Lavender Patten, Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, Swire Group chairman Peter Sutch and Legislative Councillor Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, among others. But not all opt for simplicity. Film director John Woo spends up to seven hours in the kitchen preparing a meal. Actor Chow Yun-fat is equally serious with his wok, while the Director of Social Welfare Ian Strachan has told his son never to marry unless his intended has cooked for him first. Over 150 pages - that's 76 recipes from 60 contributors - the smoke is cleared and what emerges in Hong Kong Cooks are 23 cuisines from 18 countries. But more importantly, the personalities who prefer to spin out simple 10-minute dishes into a weekend-long marathon. Hong Kong Cooks is an elaborate spin-off from the annual Great Chefs event in aid of the Heep Hong Society, where leading culinary lights at the territory's top restaurants and hotels come together to cook up a storm for charity. Last year's Great Chefs raised $1.3 million; this year's takes place on Tuesday, October 22. 'We simply thought it would be a good idea to prepare a book to launch at this year's Great Chefs,' says Michelle Garnaut of M at the Fringe, and the prime mover behind the project. 'But it wasn't as simple as we'd planned. 'We'd envisaged favourite recipes from restaurants and hotels around town, but it expanded to include personalities as well.' But how to get them to reveal their culinary eccentricities? Garnaut confesses the Pattens spurred other politicians, while movie stars might have been convinced to keep up with the Woos. Copies of Hong Kong Cooks rolled off the presses earlier this week, and Lavender Patten - who has served as patron of the Heep Hong Society since she arrived in Hong Kong - officially sent the book out with her blessings (and a special showing of her dish: cinnamon chicken with sweet onion sauce). Proceeds from the initial 3,000 print run will go to the Heep Hong Society (minus the bookstores' usual cut and a reduced distributor's fee). Plans are also underway for a Chinese-language version. The proceeds are earmarked for the Parent Resource Centres. While the 33-year-old Heep Hong receives a government grant to provide early intervention and training programmes for disabled children, it still needs funds to open its first Parent Resource Centre on Hong Kong Island. But Hong Kong Cooks is more than a charity donation; it is a workable cookbook, with contributions from professional chefs including The Peninsula's Bryan Ngao and Jurg Blaser of The Regent. There are traditional Chinese recipes dating back generations, such as Selina Chow's mashed broad beans with preserved vegetables (which comes from her mother-in-law, 'the best cook of Shanghai food in Hong Kong'), never mind the secrets of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, courtesy of Stanley Ho. Each contributor offers a few thoughts on the meaning of food: 'When I see my family and friends enjoying a good meal, it makes me happy,' says Woo, who contributed a simple steamed fish recipe. 'As happy as after I have made a good movie.' Baroness Dunn adds a caution to her instructions for scrambled eggs. 'Do not watch the evening news, chat on the telephone or answer the doorbell when cooking this delicate dish. It burns,' she says. For the launch of the book, the head chef of M at the Fringe, Andrew McConnell prepared Mrs Patten's recipe (which comes from The Sainsbury's Cookbook by Josceline Dimbleby, a Patten family friend). 'It's easy to cook,' he reveals. 'In fact, both of the Pattens' recipes are very easy - they've obviously been used. Which doesn't just go for the Pattens' recipes, it goes for many in the book.' Garnaut and McConnell point to Philip Kwok, of Bistro Gold in Times Square, as offering the book's most impressive recipe - a salad of fresh lotus roots and friends. 'It's something I would never have dreamt of cooking,' says McConnell, while Garnaut adds: 'It's a touch of fresh air in the book. It's not difficult although it is time-consuming; but it's crisp and modern. Real 90s food.' And when it comes down to favourites, Woo, who has written an essay on the meaning of food in his life, gets Garnaut's vote because she loves people who 'rant and rave about food'. 'Without love, the meal would be a tasteless experience,' he says. 'Without family, love and friendship, you are better off going out to eat.'