Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our new 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with notable Hong Kong personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all found out in roughly the same time it takes to have a 2-minute speed date.

For our inaugural 27 Questions interview, we’re chatting with May Chow, the restaurateur behind Little Bao, Happy Paradise and recently opened Little Bao Diner; winner of Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017; and a food-scene darling who’s revered as much for her East-meets-West cooking as she is for her down-to-earth attitude to creative cuisine.

27 Questions - May Chow

Name: May Chow
Age: 34
Neighbourhood: Happy Valley
Occupation: Chef/restaurateur

1. What is your life motto?

Try everything at least three times.

2. What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten in Hong Kong?

Howard’s Gourmet: The highlights of the meal were a crispy-skinned sea cucumber — glazed with an incredible stock, a poached whelk dish, and an exquisite ginger scallion crab claw.

3. Who is your role model?

L.A. chef and world-renowned baker, Nancy Silverton. She’s a passionate person that pursues happiness, she knows how to nourish her mind and self; she has a continuous pursuit of food excellence. She’s a pioneer on multiple fronts, in all aspects of food: from mentoring young talent to opening multiple businesses as well as setting new standards without ever selling out on her happiness or originality.

27 Questions - May Chow
L.A. chef Nancy Silverton
4. What was your first job?

Collating paper at my uncle’s printing company in the summer… Basically child labor, ha!

5. What is your drink of choice?

Wine. I don’t need fancy brands but I love finding small producers who demonstrate clear passion in the glass. My recent favourites are Pinots from a small winery in Victoria and natural producers from Austria and Slovenia.

6. When was the last time you drove a car?

In Los Angeles, eight years ago.

7. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?

My rooftop, where I can host barbecues with an incredible view of the racecourse.

8. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Both!

9. Which phone app could you not live without?

None.

10. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sushi.

11. What is your biggest regret in life?

Not taking studies or work seriously until much later in life.

12. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?

Expensive rent.

13. What is the top destination on your bucket list?

Copenhagen. The restaurant scene there is amazing and I love Scandinavian design as well. I will probably go during the MAD symposium event next year.

27 Questions - May Chow
Copenhagen is May Chow’s dream holiday destination. Image credit: Nick Karvounis/Unsplash
14. How often do you prepare your own meals?

Once or twice a week — I make simple pastas or some Chinese comfort foods.

15. What is your greatest fear?

When it all starts going downhill. It’s hard to always be on top of the game. I always fear that what I do is not good enough so I strive to constantly learn, change and evolve.

16. When did you last ride the Star Ferry?

A few months ago to see the Hong Kong Ballet!

17. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Watching Netflix for hours on end.

18. What is one movie everyone should see?

Chungking Express.

19. What is your typical Sunday like?

Dogs. Cycling. Eating whatever I want.

20. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?

My high school years. I really wish I took academics more seriously and had actual goals to go to Harvard, for instance, or the Culinary Institute of America.

21. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

Los Angeles. I love the balance: where Los Angeles is so international and has so much to offer but at the same time also has the beautiful Californian weather and retains a high quality standard of living.

22. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?

When you don’t call Tsim Sha Tsui “the dark side.”

23. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?

Richard Branson, Michelle Obama, Oprah, Melissa McCarthy and Elon Musk.

24. What is one song you know all the lyrics to?

Natalie Imbruglia – “Torn”. My go-to karaoke song.

25. If you could banish someone from Hong Kong forever, who would it be?

I don’t hate anyone that much!

26. Where do you go when you want to be alone?

The Taste Library at PMQ. It has the best collection of culinary books especially Chinese ones in Hong Kong. It’s always very quiet and I love how in-between work I can grab a book and find inspiration.

27 Questions - May Chow
May Chow looks for inspiration at the Taste Library at PMQ.
27. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?

Intense.

Evelyn Lok
Managing Editor
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. At Lifestyle Asia she covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.