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Hong Kong Food Diaries: Bonnae Gokson makes sugar art and dines with the stars

An entrepreneur, fashionista and overall icon, Bonnae Gokson is well known in Hong Kong social circles as a leading lady in the lifestyle sector. The global jet setter has taken her cosmopolitan upbringing to craft brands in Hong Kong that push the boundaries of F&B into an art form, from the intricately detailed, whimsical cakes at Ms B’s CAKERY, to ultra-popular, stylish and sophisticated dining and nightlife at  SEVVA.

With a never-ending cycle of creative projects to juggle and guests to entertain, the visionary entrepreneur keeps her energy up throughout the day with protein-packed breakfasts in bed, afternoon meetings shared over a slice of cake at café-bar C’est La B, and evenings spent clinking glasses with the biggest names in fashion and lifestyle. How does the Hong Kong tastemaker do it all while maintaining her impeccable sense of style and poise? Read on to find out all about it in her Hong Kong Food Diary.

Bonnae Gokson
Bonnae Gokson is the owner and Creative Director of SEVVA, Ms. B’s CAKERY, and C’est La B.

Hello Monday! My biggest pleasure and joy is to be woken up by my maid each morning with my big breakfast tray and newspapers served in bed. It has been a ritual for me for as long as I can remember. Ever since I started Ms B’s CAKERY and chose the butterfly as our business symbol, my helper Dhing has always created the most amazing butterfly fruit plates to surprise me each morning! I feel so blessed and grateful for this. These few hours I spend to reflect, meditate a bit and be surrounded with peace and comfort before I rush off for what’s usually a hectic day.

At noon back in our office, the meetings start. I have been the creative visionary and designer for my establishments since day one. Today, I am locked in the office with stacks of cheques to sign. Rather boring, I’d say. I head to SEVVA to meet with our managing team and have a late lunch there. I ask for my favourite green soup, which is a healthy blend of broccolini, asparagus and watercress. Another favourite lately is the fried king prawns with housemade tartar sauce on some salad greens. I reckon they are the juiciest and yummiest in the city.

VOGUE Japan‘s photographer, Jimmy Cohrlssen is in town and he would like to do a photoshoot at Ms B’s CAKERY for VOGUE‘s blog. Thank goodness we have new gifts in and the store is all decked up looking quite pretty. Meeting back in the office with chefs at Ms B’s. I have been working on my second coffee table book, which is scheduled to be in book fairs internationally this year. This time, I have chosen to focus on weddings and all beautiful things about romance, events, dreams and inspirations and, of course, designing all cakes for this book.

Off back home for a quick change for dinner with shoe maestro Christian Loubutin. First, we head to drinks at SEVVA. I welcome my friend, Mariana Velesquezv from New York, who is a renowned food stylist and artist. Tonight’s dinner will be at the newly renovated Jumbo restaurant. I am all dressed up with my bespoke ‘dragon necklace’ and look forward to a glorious evening with the gentle, mild breeze in the air. I’m seated next to Christian and the details that they’ve put into this party are just magnificent. Christian reminds me of how my sister, Joyce, who founded the renowned JOYCE stores, used to be back in the days and how she was on his boat in Europe. Mariana is having so much fun as well over at the next table meeting new friends. The menu at Jumbo tonight is classic Cantonese banquet style. We start with a suckling pig, followed by a BBQ meat platter, abalone with braised goose webs and mustard greens, peppered beef, steamed garoupa, crispy fried chicken, baked crab in shell and fried rice for a sumptuous dinner.

Rise and shine for another brilliant day! Today my maid has prepared another creative tray of butterflied fruit and coffee. Today’s schedule is full on. First, I meet my staff back in our warehouse in Aberdeen to check on stock. Lunch is somewhat limited there. In order to accomplish everything before my 3pm meeting in town, we have lunch boxes ordered from around the neighbourhood. Spare ribs with black bean and bitter melon rice box is my choice and a side order of sautéed greens, please.

It’s 3pm and I’m back in our office in Central with my pastry chefs. Bespoke orders for the month are heaping up and we also need so much sugar art created from our workshop to cater for the coming festivities. I need another cup of coffee and our sugar-free cookies now. In the late afternoon, I head to an appointment with the owner of a hotel silver company. I would like to create a new afternoon tea set tray for SEVVA.

It’s 5:30pm and I’m meeting my old friend, the renowned designer Vivienne Tam,  at C’est La B Cafe at Pacific Place. A little afternoon snack again of pan-fried dumplings and noodles with ‘Chicken Bolognaise’ Chinese-style, which is actually minced chicken, bamboo shoots and mushrooms cooked with special bean paste sauces.

I have a quick drink with another visiting friend from Italy at Four Seasons before meeting my frien Noreen at the movies. Afterwards, we head back to the hotel for a ‘light’ bite of Japanese food at Inagiku. We end up devouring uni handrolls, toro sashimi, agedashi tofu and some tempura prawns before calling it a night.

This morning my butterfly fruitplate is Hawaiian papaya and blueberries. It may not sound exciting perhaps, but just check Instagram (#FruitArtbyDhing), and you’ll see what I mean about these beautiful creations! I love to spend my mornings all snuggled in bed with everything around me…newspapers, telephones and all the rest to get started and plan for my day.

It’s 11am and time for my weekly personal training session. We usually go for a long brisk walk around the nature trails where I live and back to the garden to do some weights and rubber band workouts. Then it’s off to lunch with friends at C’est La B. Today, we share different bento boxes of meatballs and farfalle pasta, golden fried prawns, pasta with octopus and fish sauce, and the vegetarian Om Box with mozzarella Caprese salad and 5-grains fried rice with scallion oil ‘sunny-side up’.  I normally would skip dessert but since my friends were so looking forward to this moment, we order a mixed platter of goodies just delivered fresh this morning.

Then it’s back to the office to discuss our upcoming photoshoot this Sunday. I am the stylist behind every marketing collateral for all our establishments, and we work on Sundays because SEVVA is closed and we can work in a calm state of mind with our photographer, who also travels a bit and is often not in HK.

At night, I get a facial with my beauty therapist. One of the many things I enjoy about Hong Kong are these perks we have, as most of the other countries would close their salons by 7pm. Tomorrow is ELLE Magazine‘s 30th Anniversary party, and they will be presenting me with their Legend Award. I am sincerely humbled and honoured for this, as it celebrates the years I have been contributing in the fashion & lifestyle industries.

Dinner will not be anything gourmet: We order simple wonton noodles and vegetables from a nearby eatery and eat quickly as we have lots to complete tonight.

Today’s special butterfly fruit plate is New Zealand kiwis and berries. I also have, for breakfast, toasted soy linseed bread with avocado, sweet tomatoes, basil and chopped egg whites. This special bread we get from Australia has won many awards, especially for women’s well-being.

Out with my staff in Sham Shui Po searching for backdrops for this Sunday’s photoshoot. I love coming here with John, my graphic artist, who knows every street corner and all the little shops for the best ribbons, etc. I’d be lost without him. My fantasies and inspirations go wild at times with so much to see and be inspired about. We often have many celebration cake requests and we search for the prettiest ribbons and props just to make it beautiful. I am like a little girl lost in wonderland when I come here, and it makes my staff quite astonished.

For lunch we go to our favourite diner, Chong Fat Cha Chaan Teng. I love the excitement of it all as it’s usually packed with all sorts of people from different sectors of life. The only thing is sometimes the foul language (in Cantonese) can be severely coarse and appalling but, well, that’s part of the mix I guess! We order our cha chaan teng favourites of corned beef and scrambled egg sandwich, fish balls rice ho fun, pigs knuckles with choy sum and our Yin Yang coffee/teas.

Tonight for ELLE, I’ve chosen to wear Azzedine Alaia. It’s a fashion label that my sister brought into HK and Asia ages back. It’s lights, cameras and plenty of action with different celebrities arriving for this glamorous evening, and I am in the limelight from the entrance to the green room, ready to be filmed. How lovely to meet Christian Louboutin again, who is here to present some awards. We sit together and chat only to find out that he will also be in Manila to attend the same ball as me next week!

It’s a late dinner at Tiffin Lounge at the Grand Hyatt for the anniversary party. My escort, William, and I are hungry and quite ready to try out the new lounge concept. We both have lobster thermidor first, followed by a nice hot soup. The buffet is plentiful and it’s nice to just relax to the music, and enjoy the fine array of dishes. We taste the beef Wellington, oysters, seafood of all sorts, salads, and all the other specialties of Tiffin and are quite satisfied.

Right before bed, I make phone calls to my dear friends in New York…perfect timing to tell them about my exciting day.

Breakfast meeting with my lawyer over coffee and muffins. He mentions a hotel project for me and that the proprietor would like my advice on styling and giving the interiors a ‘magic dusting’. It’s located right in the heart of Central and sounds fabulous.

Then it’s back to the office with more meetings and decisions to make. We call in lunch from our favourite Vietnamese eatery, Nha Trang, which is just close by. I always get the tomato pho with crab and Vietnamese sausage.

Off to Kim Robinson‘s hair salon for tonight’s dinner with friends from Hollywood. At SEVVA, I meet up with my dear friends, Cissy and Donnie Yen (Kung Fu superstar), and their visiting friends, Paris Libby, renowned stylist for the stars, and Samantha, PR guru from Hollywood  It’s always lovely to catch up with them and hear the behind-the-scenes stories and their latest movies. During our fascinating storytelling night, we order risotto with cepes, veal and bone marrow,  a half chicken tikka and mozzarella with ratatouille, salmon trout salad, lobster spaghetti, roast pigeon and my favourite, sirloin Wagyu steak and veggies. We finish with a grand dessert platter, of course!

I am spending a lazy morning at home with my lovely breakfast-in-bed of black coffee and my surprise butterfly fruit plate of watermelon and blackberries. I have to do some stretching before my trainer arrives at 11am.

After a strenuous exercise session with OJ, my trainer, I have some fish congee that I brought back from SEVVA last night. This silky rice porridge takes lots of hours and effort to prepare. I was taught to eat the Shanghainese way by my mother who was very refined and cooked so very well. Cooking was one of her hobbies and talents. We would have pickles, crispy fried dough, fermented bean curd, sprouts salad tossed with sesame oil, cucumber in sesame oil and pork floss all served in little pots as side dishes with congee.

At night, I meet with friends and we go around town discovering new places of interest. It’s 5:30pm which means movie and nachos time! Afterwards, we walk over to The Lounge at the Four Seasons for martinis and some dinner. I usually choose the Alaskan king crab salad as it’s light and easy.

For late night drinks, we head to B.A.R., a tiny 14-seater with a fabulous Japanese owner who mixes all the drinks. I cannot have too much alcohol anymore, as I have to work the following day. I order the delicious, house-grown Japanese musk melon drink and it is an art in itself just watching him preparing the juice for me. Ito San grinds and sieves the melon until it is just the sweetest green liquid of juice. It tastes so delicate and perfect for the night.

Today’s morning butterfly fruit plate is pear and raspberries followed by an omelette frittata with thin zucchini slices.

Back to SEVVA, where it is serene and my team of staff are waiting and preparing the props for our full-day photoshoot. I like to play classical music and arias at times; that is how I can focus and concentrate on my work and creativity.

It’s Chester our photographer’s birthday today and we have prepared his favourite chestnut, meringue and fresh cream chiffon cake. A baguette from Robuchon with ham and cheese will do for me as I snack along the day. We sometimes finish up to 15 images in a day, so it’s pretty nonstop. When the weather is overcast, it’s more challenging, but on a bright sunny day like this, the direct sunlight for all our food and cake shots is crucial.

It’s been a long day and I’m satisfied with our work. I head home for some vegetable soup and a good massage to conclude the week.

Leslie Yeh
Editor in Chief
Having worked as a lifestyle editor for almost 10 years, Leslie is thrilled to be writing about the topic she loves most: wining and dining. When she's not out pounding the pavement for the latest new restaurant opening or tracking food trends, Leslie can be found at home whipping up a plate of rigatoni vodka and binge-watching Netflix with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand.