Name: Au Yeung Tin-yun. Age: 48. Occupation: Baker and part-owner of Tai Cheung Cake Shop in Wellington Street. Career Path: I started working here in 1959 because it was a family business run by my uncle and because I didn't want to study. At the age of nine, I was made an apprentice and paid $10 a month. I started learning everything about baking the traditional Chinese way. After the three-year apprenticeship I worked for a big Hong Kong hotel in their bakery and then for the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. This was a valuable experience because I am now able to combine the best features of Western and Chinese baking. Eighteen years agio, I returned to this shop, which has been here for 47 years already. Because it is part mine I will stay here. Au Yeung's Day: I'm here every day at 7 am when the shop opens. One baker works an overnight shift so that fresh bread and cakes are available when the shop opens. I start working in the kitchen as soon as I come in. I mix the ingredients myself and need no recipes - after doing this job for so long all the recipes are in my head. I make all the pastry and dough for bread, tarts, cakes, buns and sometimes even for fancy wedding cakes. I do follow a routine because usually bread is made first, then tarts, then Chinese cakes and buns, but of course as items finish during the course of the day then I start making them again. At any one time I have many things baking in the ovens, but I do not use a timer or alarm clock. I just know automatically how long different cakes need - I can tell just by looking at it or with one touch. I don't get bored because I constantly experiment and try to improve on my recipes. Many bakeries use cooking margarine for their cakes, but I have a secret mixture of real butter and some margarine and I play with this ratio in different recipes until I think it is perfect. I also create new recipes using my knowledge of Chinese and Western baking. I eat and taste all day long because it is very important to know how everything I bake tastes so that I can make it perfect. On my days off I go to other bakeries and cake shops and taste their products so that I can compare and keep learning. There are not so many people left who can make traditional Chinese cakes and other recipes like real mooncakes so I am proud of what I do. There was a time, a trend, when many Chinese people were trying Western bread and Japanese cakes, but now there is a return to traditional baking especially real Chinese bread which does not use yeast. Ambition: To keep improving my recipes. Salary: The shop is paid for and I own a flat in Hong Kong, but it's impossible to work out how much I get every month after overheads. It must be enough. Name: Lau Sik-kwan. Age: 41. Occupation: Man Wah (Mandarin Oriental) head chef. Career Path: My mother was my greatest inspiration because she loved to make good food and although she never worked in the restaurant or catering business it's thanks to her that I'm in this job today. When I finished school I started learning how to be a chef. There is a belief among Chinese chefs that the best way to learn is to start in the kitchen from the lowest position and learn even the most basic things about food like how to clean, wash and cut vegetables. Like many top Chinese chefs I never had any formal training, but started my apprenticeship in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant with hands on experience. I would change restaurants every couple of years when I felt that I had learnt all that I could in that position. I was also lucky to have one particular chef, who is now at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, teach me what he knew and even today he is my mentor. After working in some of Hong Kong's top restaurants I worked in Bangkok for a hotel, at the Conrad and I have been at the Mandarin for the past five years. My feeling is that no amount of formal training can replace actual hands-on experience, seeing how things are done and then doing it. There are sutble techniques needed for Chinese cooking which can only be learnt by doing it yourself. Lau's Day: I work shifts from 11 am to 3 pm and 6.30 pm to 11 pm which is why I live nearby in Sai Ying Pun. The first thing I do when I come in is check the menu to familiarise myself with the seasonal or daily specials which are decided beforehand by myself and my staff. Then I start a quality check; it is very important that all the ingredients we have are of the finest quality. If I and other members of my team are not satisfied with anything then I let the hotel's purchasing department know so it can be replaced. Supervision is as much my job as the hands-on cooking as there are five cooks working in the restaurant and other people responsible for different jobs. I need to oversee and co-ordinate the whole team. When we make a new recipe I demonstrate to everyone how it is done and then I watch to see how the recipe is being implemented at all stages. If one of the cooks is away then I fill in for him. I also check every single dish that leaves the kitchen to make sure it is beautiful. I have weighed 60 kilograms for the past 20 years. This is probably down to all the rushing around I do. I strive for perfection in every dish and we are often busy so this is quite stressful for me. Considering how much I eat I should be fatter like a lot of chefs. I love this job very much, it is creative and exactly what I wanted to do. Ambition: To always love this job and do my best. Salary: $40,000 a month.