How Michelin-starred chef Vicky Lau’s ‘edible stories’ provide a glimpse of her initial career path

How Michelin-starred chef Vicky Lau’s ‘edible stories’ provide a glimpse of her initial career path

How Michelin-starred chef Vicky Lau’s ‘edible stories’ provide a glimpse of her initial career path

Asked the question of how she would spend HK$8 million (about US$1 million), chef Vicky Lau says she would invest in a passion project: developing new innovations in food technology, particularly around sustainable farming.

“Sustainability has become a very big topic in the culinary world,” Lau says. “I believe it should be a priority in the design and operation of a restaurant.”

Lau is the chef and owner of Tate Dining Room, a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Hong Kong where the city’s signature flavours are combined with French influences to create a series of tasting menus known as “edible stories”. Each dish on these menus pays homage to a specific ingredient, most of which are locally sourced.

The creativity behind the restaurant’s menus and the presentation of its dishes, as well as its elegant interior, all hint at the chef’s artistic background.

Chef Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room in Hong Kong believes sustainability should be a priority in the design and operation of a restaurant.

Lau studied graphic design in the US and initially embarked on a career in that field, working as an art director for an advertising agency in New York, before deciding to transfer her creativity to the kitchen. She retrained as a chef at Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok and honed her new craft in Hong Kong at the Michelin-starred French restaurant Cepage (now closed) before opening Tate Dining Room in 2012.

This career pivot fuelled Lau’s interest in the connection between art, food and culture. “My interest in art is really in the culture itself, because food is also about culture. It’s all connected,” she says.

“We feast with our eyes first, and when I present a dish, it’s like a gift to someone. For me, that’s the importance of the visual.”

Sustainability was a recurring theme in Lau’s work as a graphic designer, and it has become part of her culinary philosophy as well. “We have to focus a lot on the way we source food, and on the way we cook our food,” she says.

Lau studied and worked in graphic design before pivoting to the culinary arts, and that experience can be seen at her restaurant in the decor and the presentation of dishes.

“For the future, it is very important that we source food locally – we have to respect the environment,” Lau adds, pointing to the need to provide quality food for the global population.

As an entrepreneur working in an industry that can often be unpredictable, Lau is protective of both her business and her personal well-being. “The food and beverage scene is intense, because every day we have to greet a lot of people, we work as a team and we want to have a consistent performance,” she says, adding that positive thinking helps protect her mental and emotional health.

Lau emphasises the importance of taking a mindful approach to her spending as well, with every purchase being carefully considered alongside her long-term goals. She also highlights the need for appropriate insurance, in order to protect her money so it can be put towards the things that matter to her.

“Since I run my own business, I have to be forward-thinking and anticipate the future, because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Lau explains.

After more than a decade in the restaurant business, Lau’s perspective on the meaning of wealth has changed. For her, it is now about prioritising personal growth and being able to inspire other women through her craft.

“Success means making a positive impact in society, especially for female entrepreneurs,” Lau says. “It is very important for me to encourage them to pursue their passion and personal growth in their industries.”

Watch the video to learn more about Lau’s thoughts on protecting the environment, her business and her own well-being.

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