Maurice Kong is the director of food and beverage for the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. He oversees the massive centre's restaurants and banqueting services, which among them serve some six million people a year. Kong took up the post in 2005 after 10 years with the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong. He is a graduate of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at Polytechnic University and juggles many roles on top of his day job. These include serving as honorary president of Les Disciples d'Escoffier Society, Asia - an association named after the acclaimed French chef Auguste Escoffier - that promotes excellence in food and hospitality. How did you get started? I started at the bottom, as a waiter. I didn't want to be a waiter for the rest of my life, so I joined a management trainee programme at the Hyatt. Two years later, I got a call from the Mandarin Oriental. What's the biggest difference between hotels and the HKCEC? The size. This is much bigger. We have seven restaurants and 52 function rooms that host between 80 and 180 tables. It's like having 10 hotels. Last Christmas for dinner we were completely full - we served 7,200 people. Our record is 8,303 people in one day. It's a constant stream of people . Are you very hands on in your job? Being food and beverage director has two sides: there's developing the business, but also looking at the details. Elsewhere, the convention centre is usually out of town near the airport, but here it's in the centre of the city, so we have a different kind of customer. I look at all the details - commissioning a Hong Kong artist to hand paint the plates, having chopstick holders made out of jade ; I've had training in how to serve tea to welcome customers and I've just organised for a top sommelier to teach all the staff about wine and food pairing. With so many different restaurants and events, how do you manage? I keep a few changes of outfit in my office. At any one time, we can have a fine dining event, where I'll need to wear a tuxedo; a wedding, which is lighter and more romantic; a children's party, where I'll need jeans. I change my outfit when I pop into each event. There are many different cuisines at the centre. What is your favourite? I love Italian food. French food can sometimes be a bit serious, but Italian is more casual. They use interesting ingredients, and the textures and flavours are gorgeous. I like Cantonese food, but I don't like it to be too heavy or strong in flavour. I like seafood. Do you cook at home, or does that feel too similar to work? I love cooking. I go to local markets - not supermarkets - to pick out produce and to Tai Po to the huge wet market. I like to chat to the stallholders about ingredients. If I'm cooking for my family, I'll cook Cantonese cuisine; if we have friends over, I'll cook seafood or Western cuisine. What's your favourite tipple? I drink red wine. I went on a two-week trip to Bordeaux and spent all day long drinking the wine. It was so good. What is your favourite restaurant in Hong Kong? I like Caprice [at the Four Seasons]. I don't often have time to go in the evening, but I will go for the set lunch. I also like Amber at the Landmark Oriental. What was the most challenging event you've held at the HKCEC? Probably the Sibos [financial services conference] in 2009. We started planning it in 2001. The company behind it invited me to Vienna, and their team made several visits to Hong Kong. They wanted to oversee every detail, from chopsticks and napkins to menu design and wine choices. They had nearly 10,000 delegates. I was like a chicken with no head.