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10 female chefs in Hong Kong to know about (and follow!)

You probably knew these names already, but here’s another honourable mention anyway. In honour of International Women’s Day, meet 11 of Hong Kong’s impressive cast of female chefs.

The restaurant industry, like so many others, is a male-dominated one, typically credited to a working environment that’s apparently too laborious, too tiresome, and too intense — so they say. While there’s no doubt surviving the restaurant scene is tough work, these female chefs in Hong Kong have soared beyond navigating hot stoves and proven this ancient theory all so wrong.

Good food is good food — it’s as simple as that. And these undeniable talents create stunning, inventive dishes that push the boundary of simple cooking and have earned top marks at some of the city’s best restaurants. Some have won titles like Asia’s Best Female Chef, others run Michelin-starred kitchens, and all are passionate individuals who showcase their amazing craft and bring extra joy to the city’s food scene.

10 female chefs to know in Hong Kong:

ArChan Chan (Ho Lee Fook)

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Chef ArChan Chan is at the helm of the renewed Ho Lee Fook 2.0. She brings to the table inventive Cantonese recipes — XO cheong fun, Live Razor Clams (her childhood favourite) and Hong Kong-signature Stir-fry King. Aiming to rewrite the rules of traditional Cantonese cooking, ArChan has struck a balance between the comforting Chinese cuisine and Ho Lee Fook’s irreverent nature. Follow her for snapshots of hearty homemade meals and a look into some of ArChan’s favourite ingredients. 

Follow @archan_n here

Vicky Lau (Tate Dining Room / Mora)

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You’ll know a Vicky Lau creation when you see it: artful, mouthwatering, with an exorbitant amount of attention to detail. While this kind of savoir-faire is left to the tables of two Michelin-star Tate Dining Room and Mora, the Asian Best Female Chef 2015’s page is a humble dedication to snapshots of the city. They play inspiration to Lau’s signature one-ingredient “Ode” menus. The theme has continued in her captions: “Ode to Hong Kong” and “Ode to Street Markets”. While not regularly updated, pretty pictures of new dishes are displayed on the restaurant’s own respective pages. Follow her for intimate insights into her day-to-day doings.

Follow @chefvickylau here.

May Chow (Little Bao / Happy Paradise)

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The one most responsible for putting the cool back into the humble bao, May Chow approaches Chinese and Cantonese cooking in inventive new strides, as shown on the menus of Little Bao and Happy Paradise. Named Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2017, she has starred in various culinary shows including Top Chef US and MasterChef Asia and UK. May’s page reflects her passionate dedication to delicious food (many of which are current menu items) and pop-up happenings. She also posts sweet snapshots of her amazing team, industry friends and her musically talented fiancé.

Follow @littlebaomay here

Gisela Alesbrook (Hotal Colombo)

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Sri Lankan-native chef Gizzy, brought a little taste of her hometown flavours to Central’s SoHo with Hotal Colombo. The cosy canteen is best known for its authentic menu of bold flavours. Try the Bone Marrow Varuval with Pol Roti, Beef Chilli Fry and, of course, the venue’s popular Colombo Crab Club. You’ll find Gizzy’s account filled with posts dedicated to fresh crustaceans and dishes that remind her of home.

Follow @chefgizzy here

Chan Kai Ying (Chilli Fagara)

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Visit Chilli Fagara for its fiery Sichuan cuisine and savour dumplings soaked in chilli oil, tofu bubbling in a ma la broth. But don’t forget to credit Chan Kai Ying for the recipes. Born into a family of chefs and restauranteurs, it was only natural for Chan to find footing in the F&B industry. Sample her authentic Sichuan recipes at the Central post. The Chong Qing native has since brought the restaurant to prestigious MichelinGuide standards, perfecting passed-down recipes and ideating new ones (including one chilli-spiked ice cream). While she doesn’t seem to be on Instagram herself, you can follow — and head over for a mouth-numbing experience — Chan’s cooking at the Old Bailey Street address.

Tiffany Lo (Jean May)

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The adjectives that apply to Jean May’s comfort, feel-good French fare are the same descriptors you’d probably use to describe Tiffany Lo’s Instagram page. Having trained under Pierre Koffmann during her time in London, the Le Cordon Blue alumnus perfects timeless, bistro-style serves at the neighbourhood eatery. The same dishes are on display on her own feed — dishes perfected and dishes still in mid-recipe testing. Scroll through for simple French fare with Cantonese comfort sprinkled in between.

Follow @tlo_chef here

Narisara Somboon (Chachawan)

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The Chachawan kitchen might be shared between Narisara Somboon and her husband Chang Somboon, but Narisara shoulders much of the responsibility. At the Issan-style restaurant, she is responsible for taste-testing and ideating the menu alongside Chang. Narisara has also come up with dishes of her own, including the rich and creamy Massaman Gai. The Prachin Buri-native shared over 40 years of culinary experience with her husband. Then, she moved to the city as part of the Chachawan founding team. Follow her penchant for aromatic flavours with a reservation here.

Theign Yie Phan (Grand Majestic Sichuan)

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Theign Yie Phan was previously the head chef of both Vietnamese banh mi grab n’ go and sister Saigonese grill house Le Garçon Saigon. Thanks to her multi-cultural upbringing—born in Malaysia but raised in Singapore—Theign developed a discerning palate influenced by her multiple identities. This shows across her culinary creations as well. She also has an interest in the library of cuisines within the Chinese culinary canon as seen by her most recent move. She joined Grand Majestic Sichuan as head chef, bringing a new perspective and love to the Sichuan restaurant.

Follow @cheftheign here

Léa Cantalloube (Ami)

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Previously at Le Bistro Winebeast, Léa Cantalloube joined Ami as its chef de cuisine, joining hands with executive chef Nicolas Boutin. The French native seems to have a vibrant gastronomical heritage, growing up in her father’s acclaimed French restaurant. From there, she learned first-hand the culinary arts and techniques from her family. Her resume is packed with experiences working in Michelin-star restaurants both in France and Hong Kong. The chef is now cooking up delicious new dishes at French casual fine dining, Ami.

Follow @lea.cantalloube.hk here

Aurelie Altemaire (Felix)

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Beyond the breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour at Felix, be in awe at the food brought to you by chef de Cuisine, Aurelie Altermarie. With 20 years of culinary experience under her belt, you know you’re in good hands. She crafted the six-course contemporary menu boasting Boston Lobster, A5 Kagoshima Sirloin, and more. Channelling her expertise in French cuisine, Altermaire previously worked in Odyssée in Hong Kong and L’atelier de Joel Robuchon in the UK.

Follow @chef.aurelie here

Hero Image courtesy of Chilli Fagara, Hotal Colombo, Happy Paradise (from left to right)

10 female chefs in Hong Kong to know about (and follow!)


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