Tale of two chefs: Roger Fok and James Cornwall share guilty pleasure of chocolate

Assistant pastry sous chef at JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong and Seafood Room’s executive chef have different approaches to their work

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 1:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 4:59pm

Chef Roger Fok is the real deal when it comes to chocolate, our favourite guilty pleasure. He was born, raised and trained in Hong Kong, before starting his career in 2006.

“What I like is its versatility in terms of presentation,” Fok says. “It gives me a lot of room for creativity.” The assistant pastry sous chef at JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong competes regularly at international events and, in 2015, participated in the World Chocolate Masters in Paris. His showpiece, “Avian Inspiration”, won rave reviews.

This unusual work features a bust of Orville Wright, one of the Wright Brothers and a pioneer of early aviation. “The whole piece represents the evolution and linkage between bird and airplanes, nature and civilisation,” Fok says.

He will continue to compete in tournaments, but for now Fok is looking forward to Christmas at the
JW Marriott, where his team has created a miniature North Pole, complete with chocolate polar bears, reindeer and - of course - Santa Claus.

Seafood Room’s executive chef James Cornwall is also passionate about chocolate, but takes a very different approach. The New Zealander’s focus isn’t on industry awards. “My time is spent in the kitchen, working with my team,” he says. “I understand why some people work towards these awards, but it’s not for me.”

James’s favourite piece for Seafood Room is his salted caramel ice cream, popcorn, white chocolate and white Truffle dish, the challenge of which is to achieve the ideal balance of sweetness and saltiness with the earthy, savoury tones of the truffle.

Cornwall is keen to produce desserts with a Chinese heritage, but using European techniques. For Mid-Autumn festival, his team created brightly coloured mochi pineapple ice cream mooncakes for guests at Seafood Room.

But for Lunar New Year? Diners will just have to wait and see.