Worldchefs Young Chef Ambassador Leung T.Y.
So many people always ask me, how come I can squeeze my time to volunteer for charity work when you are working a full-time job and studying part-time for a master degree of International Hospitality Management. I would say it is all about a blend of sacrifice, priorities, passion, with unreserved support of your family and friends to strive for excellence for current and future career path and a better quality of life.
I made time for volunteer work when I was a student, as student have much more free time than a full-time worker. Once you believe that your volunteer work which brought you uncountable intangible values, experiences, friendships, knowledge, inspirations and more, you will still squeeze some time for it. It all boils down to Time Management. If your free time is less than what you have got during student life, doesn’t matter, squeeze a little time and make a commitment to contribute and give back to the industry, and especially for me, encourage young people to travel as much as you can, and learn as much as you can when you have time. Your perspectives towards life and work experiences will undoubtedly be enriched. I know I have, and in several folds.
When I was the final year student of higher diploma in 2011, being the President of Hong Kong Young Chefs Club, there is no direct effect on career. However, in my humble opinion, there is a direct effect on my life experiences. My sincere gratitude goes to my lecturers including Jennifer Kui, Ken Chow and Francis Lo. Without the inspiration and ‘door openers’ from Miss Kui and Francis, I am sure I would not have stayed here for such an extended period with Worldchefs, it was formerly known as WACS when I first joined the association. If I was never involved in Hong Kong Young Chefs Club (HKYCC), most of my experiences in life would not happen in my history chapters to make my life so colorful and meaningful. If I have not been here with HKYCC, Hong Kong Chefs Association and Worldchefs, I would not have had the chance or dare to travel around the world to taste the local food, to understand and have a better grasp of the origins of local ingredients and to experience and appreciate the local culture.
I have had the privilege of attending the Dr Bill Gallagher Young Chefs Forums (BGYCF) as a Young Chef. And to add a feather to my young chef hat, I was truly honoured to have participated in several BGYCF events: 2010 in Santiago, Chile, 2012 in Daejeon, South Korea, 2014 in Stavanger, Norway; and I am looking forward to taking part in 2016 at Greece. Immeasurable experiences during my BGYCF travels include a wild BBQ experience in the huge vineyard and farm at Santiago de Chile. Such a rare opportunity to taste Pisco Sour in any parts of the world, but in Chile it is a typical cocktail of South America. At Daejeon 2012, the hands-on experience at a local Korean factory making traditional kimchi with our very own pair of hands. In Norway 2014, the luxurious cruise to a remote location to visit the Halibut farm and seeing the breathtaking sights of Norway fjords, with Mr Magnus Skretting of Sterling White Halibut; the masterclass from Sterling White Halibut about their farm, the right way to fillet Halibut, and to taste the remarkably delicious white halibut straight from the water was an experience that none of us young chefs would ever forget.
Apart from the travels for Worldchefs events, there are also travel opportunities for some partnerships programs with HKYCC and HKCA. If Spanish Chamber of the Commerce in Hong Kong never held the program to send top young chefs from 16 countries to work in Spain for 10 months, my friend Sandy would not be working in Spain nor would have met Chef Adolfo Muños in his restaurant in Toledo, Spain. Once she knew Chef Adolfo and his son Javier Muños would come to Hong Kong as a Guest Chef promotion, Sandy gave me the opportunity to bring them around to shop for souvenirs and to eat the local street food. On his last day in Hong Kong, they offered me to work in Toledo with them when I have time.
During that time, I was still pursuing my Degree in Hotel Management. But such a rare opportunity would never have come by on a daily basis, thus I planned and went to Spain to work with Chef Adolfo Muños for 2 months and travel around Europe for more than 2 weeks. You never know how Chef Adolfo lives in Spain until you go to visit him. I cannot even dream that I have chance to stay at his spacious house for few days to welcome us. He has his group of restaurants including 2 restaurants, 2 tapas bar, pastry production kitchen, his own greenhouse, his own 19th century wine cellar and not to mentions that his vineyard (almost 15times of the basketball court) to produce more than 7 types of grapes for making wine. And it is for sure, they have their own place for making wine. All these are still so amazing to me, and really cannot wait to go back and visit them again with my family. They still inspire me about how chefs are proud to grow their own herbs, grapes, wines for their own restaurant. It is talking about huge plan start from zero in many years ago. This life experience will be with me for my whole life, motivating me to grow, to strive and to carve a lifelong career in the culinary world.
I am now the junior chef de partie in Mandarin Grill and Bar and work with Chef Uwe Opocensky for more than 3 years. I am so thankful that Chef Uwe offered me a place to work with him as a fresh graduate from university. It has been a rewarding experience to work with him, he has given me a greater appreciation of the updated European cuisine with molecular, art and science concept. And I am ever so grateful that he supports my cause, and allows me to take my day off to study part-time degree and do volunteer work for Worldchefs.
I am grateful for the opportunities given to me in my early days as a student and a young chef, and with my new role as Worldchefs Young Chef Ambassador, I want to help and give the same opportunities to fellow young chefs to live the dreams. So be proactive, be spontaneous, be in it!
Worldchefs Young Chef Ambassador for Asia