ON June 19, Kwei Chai Yin will retire. Again. This time, the 77-year-old chef promises to hang up his apron for good. Goodbye the Peak. Hello home-cooked meals by his wife. Goodbye, cocktail parties for 100, sit-down dinners for 16 and keeping three freezers stocked with chocolate chip cookies, lasagne, ice cream and appetisers, just in case 30 or 50 pop in for drinks. The Shanghai-born Kwei looks forward to long walks, being punctual for his wife's delicious meals, and being at home whenever any of his five children come to visit. For the past three years Kwei has been Hongkong's best kept secret in American cooking, according to his boss, Jane Williams. He is the resident chef for the American Consul General, Richard Williams, and his family. On June 18, the Williams will say goodbye to the ever-smiling Kwei and the territory. After their three-year posting, they are returning to Washington, DC. ''Everyone comes here for the view,'' effuses the fireball hostess, diplomat's wife and mother of two. On a recent afternoon, she is elegantly coiffed and stylishly dressed in cool lime green. After a morning of errands and before her weekly mahjong game, the native of northern China strides across the palatial living room, looking for her cigarettes. Buta wayward lily, drooping from one of the arrangements she did that morning, catches her attention. ''Dick and I love to entertain here and everyone is nuts about the view. We like to dine outside, but there's always a wind. When the ladies hair-dos get messed up, they always go inside.'' The living and dining rooms and kitchen of the official residence on Barker Road have the kind of view that pilots are privy to. But the Williams' view is better - the trees still look like trees. When the Williams settle into the Washington social scene, her role as hostess will change slightly. It won't be the social treadmill they enjoyed and survived in Hongkong. ''There will be less of it,'' she says. Her husband will rejoin the China desk of the State Department. But she may find herself more in the kitchen of their three-bedroom home than in the commercial-style kitchen here with the double Vulcan ranges. ''In Washington, we'll socialise a lot with the Chinese Embassy. The diplomats like Chinese home-style cooking, the kind I do. Nothing fancy, like bird's nest soup or shark's fin.'' Kwei's expertise in American baking and Chinese desserts, like Peking dust, puts him at odds with Mr Williams' waistline. ''Dick likes baked goods and ice cream. When we're deciding on party menus, he usually has a say in the desserts.'' This was the Williams' third posting in Asia. When Mr Williams was deputy consul here in the late 70s, they met Kwei, who was then the chef for the American Consul General. ''If the Consul was out of town, we'd borrow Kwei to cook for some official entertaining. Our children loved his cakes and cookies,'' she says, referring to their 25-year old daughter (now married and living in San Francisco) and their son, 30, a businessman in Hongkong. When he was 16, Kwei went to work in a restaurant in Shanghai and learned the rudiments of professional cooking and baking in five years. One cooking assignment for the British consul led to many more. He has worked for many British, American and Belgian diplomats since. When Mr Williams was assigned to his present posting, Mrs Williams convinced Kwei to come out of retirement. ''We'll be back quite a bit, I suspect.'' she said. ''Our son is getting married here next year. And Kwei said, if we need him to cook for the wedding, he'll be there. ''Again.''