How has your past influenced you? 'Alice Waters' [Chez Panisse] is one of my favourite restaurants in the Bay Area [California, the United States] and in the world. I used to live near there and I would see if I could get the printed menu they made available every week. They have the daily menu downstairs and monthly one upstairs. I never got to work there, but I wished I had.' How do you balance tradition with innovation in French cuisine? 'France is one of the most geographically diverse countries. The wine culture is rich and, resource-wise, it has everything. A lot of people think French food is [Auguste] Escoffier, the cream and butter sauce of Parisian haute cuisine, but it isn't really that. The best food is regional, farm based and rooted in local tradition. With the exception of China, there is no other place that can rival that diversity. I try to stick to the original spirit of cooking. For example, bouillabaisse is a famous fish soup from Marseille, in the south of France. The original spirit [of the dish] is to use the freshest but not always the most sought-after fish, which would cost more. [Bouillabaisse] is peasant food; fishermen made soup with what they had after selling the best of their catch at the market. So I use fresh local fish in Hong Kong: scorpion fish, monkfish, red mullet, rockfish, baby crab.' Where do you get your fish? 'I go to the wet markets every morning. I have a small restaurant; if I were running a 200-person restaurant, I couldn't do this. Unlike a French chef in Hong Kong, my background [allows me to] ask the fishmonger for what I need. 'I have noticed the fish getting smaller and smaller. Overfishing is a problem. It would be easy to say: 'Let's close the season for half a year and let stocks recover.' But livelihoods depend on it. Markets are closed from June to August, allowing only small-time hook-and-line operations to fish. [During this time] I've seen a lot of interesting clams and fish.' Why do you serve French cuisine family style? 'Chinese food is traditionally served on a lazy Susan, where guests serve themselves and others. It's conducive to the atmosphere. People respond well when you put a platter of roast beef, or roasted fish, or chicken on the table. It's beautiful. They appreciate the interaction. Some people might complain that my food is not on individual plates; without herbs and garnishes; and without sauces that look like drawings. I like real and simple honest food that showcases the ingredients. I [prefer not] to manipulate the dish or chop up a fish into pieces.'