The master's kitchen

YP junior reporters

A group of junior reporters sneaked a special behind-the-scenes look into a top-notch domain where culinary art is a science

YP junior reporters |

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Master chef Peter Find gives some tips to the junior reporters in the kitchen of the Ritz Carlton hotel
On July 12, five YP junior reporters participated in a workshop hosted by Peter Find, the executive chef of the Hong Kong Ritz Carlton hotel. The students learned some cooking tricks and listened to a world-class chef tell them about his food philosophy.

As we pushed the doors open to the grandiose Diamond Ballroom's kitchen, we found ourselves in a whole new world of culinary wonders.

The ballroom's kitchen specialises in Western and Chinese banquets and can cater to hundreds of guests. It is equipped with huge grills, massive wok-style surfaces, freezers the size of a normal kitchen with temperatures going down to minus 40 degrees Celsius, and even tanks with live fish.

There's also a separate room to make chocolate and pastries with its own temperature control.

Pastry chefs work meticulously on a marble-topped surface to prevent chocolate from melting while making identical mini-pastries, bonbons and cakes.

Cooking here is not just an art; it's a science.

A chef showed us how to make a four-star Caesar salad. Then it was our turn to try our hand, with the help of master chef Find.

Working in pairs at our own work stations, we first cut down a head of romaine lettuce to bite-size pieces.

We then crushed a couple of sardines and half of a garlic clove into a large bowl for the sauce.

We whisked in egg yolk and added drops of oil and water until we found the right balance for the sauce. While we did that, we had to whisk continuously.

Then came some lemon juice, salt, pepper and mustard.

Whisk again.

We poured the dressing on the lettuce and added garlic croutons.


Finally, we decorated the salad in an eye-catching way with nice patterns of tomato slices, herbs and flowers.

Any decoration we used had to be edible. We also made sure to get rid of any fingerprints and sauce drops on the side of the plate.

Find then sampled each of our salads and made comments.

Some were too watery, some too lemony, some too mustard-heavy, he explained.

We realised it was really hard to make a perfect Caesar salad.

Find also commented on our plate presentations. Some of us overdid the decorations, some of us did not do enough. It was crucial to find the right balance between neat and too colourful.

The chef then rewarded us with a surprise. He had prepared some spaghetti carbonara and some delicious pastries and chocolates for us to try. Yummy!

After our meal, Find answered our questions. He was born in Germany and began working in the food industry at the age of 14 when he became an apprentice at his village's butchery.

He made his way up the career ladder, thanks to his hard work and study over many years. He worked at the Wynn casino in Macau and the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong before eventually settling in his current job.

Find describes his job as executive chef as "95 per cent supervising and 5 per cent cooking".

"Hong Kong people are very demanding," he noted. "They have high expectations and eat very fast. They can finish a four-course meal in 45 minutes."

Find's job is to make sure that the quality and efficiency of his kitchen is always top-notch. "The quality of the food must always be the same, even if there is little time or when I am not there," he said. "Speed is vital, too. If the quality of the dish is good, but it takes forever, the customer will not be happy."

In Europe, chefs often have to use seasonal products. But in Hong Kong, they can have almost any product all year round. Yet that can make it extra challenging for chefs to create variety while keeping up quality.

The key to developing and sustaining both quality and efficiency in a kitchen is to "put the right people in the right place", Find said. He has 102 chefs working for him and he treats them all with respect. He always listens both to his staff and his customers.

By Lucy Wong Yin-chi, Wong Yin-wing, Jennifer Wong, Erica Leung and Jason Kan. Compiled by Olivia Chavassieu.

Check out the pictures of the workshop on the YP Facebook page