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Cheat Day: Corey Riches, executive chef of Bedu, Meraki Hospitality Group

Hong Kong boasts one of the most dynamic dining scenes on the planet, filled with culinarians and tastemakers galore. In our Cheat Day column, we spotlight some of the top players in the kitchen and behind the bar, delving into their personal favourites during their days off. This week, we speak to Corey Riches of Meraki Hospitality Group.

Corey Riches / Meraki Hospitality Group

Little Bedu

If you’ve noticed a little more hustle and bustle happening in and around Gough Street, it’s probably due to the opening of Meraki Hospitality Group’s newest venture: Little Bedu.  

“It’s been well received so far,” says Corey Riches, executive chef of the group. “A lot of Bedu’s regulars have come through to support us, especially those who work nearby, from the office or home. It’s been a convenient addition to their daily options in the area and that’s exactly one of the reasons we opened this extension of the brand.” 

Originally from Australia, Riches honed his culinary skills working in modern cafés through to high-end restaurants in Melbourne and Brisbane. He came to Hong Kong to help with a friend’s new restaurant opening and enjoyed the city so much that he ended up staying. In 2018, he was given the opportunity to partner with Meraki founders Laura and Alexis Offe for the opening of Bedu. 

Corey Riches / Bedu / Meraki Hospitality Group

Sustainable sourcing

“It’s no surprise I spend all my time at Bedu,” he says. “It’s the restaurant I was brought in to open and is my creative control centre. I use it as a base of operations from food testing for our other venues, recipe development, meeting with suppliers and directly gathering feedback from regular guests.” 

For Little Bedu, Riches reimagined Bedu’s menus, including set lunch and dinner à la carte offers, with a renewed effort towards sustainable sourcing and farming practices. 

What are your signature dishes? Tell us about it.  

The Eggplant Carpaccio is my unique take on the Italian appetizer that’s been very popular with the latest menu launch. Things like toasting the tahini and using a chilli oil we make in-house using three different chillies, paprika, sumac, balsamic, brings a unique flavour to a delicious — and 100% vegan — dish.   

Corey Riches / Bedu / Meraki Hospitality Group

Another new signature is the Baked Honey Cake, a recreation of the cake I made for my daughter’s 1st birthday in Australia. Originally, I had worked that day from 6am to 1am and went straight home to make the cake. Tired, I wasn’t thinking straight and poured chocolate ganache immediately over the top while it was still hot and ruined it. The kitchen I was working in at the time had access to a lot of local honey, so to make another child-friendly cake with no added sugar, I created the honey cake recipe. At Bedu I add the pistachio for texture and pour warm almond milk over the top. 

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?  

  1. The 6 Ps – Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance 
  1. Step by step, day by day: controlling an immediate situation, or the day ahead and not being distracted or worried by the things you cannot foresee or change a year away.  

I don’t remember who gave me these pieces of advice; I’ve moved so much and had many mentors, but these two sayings have always stuck.  

Corey Riches / Bedu / Meraki Hospitality Group

Do you cook when you are home? Which is a go-to dish for you?  

Very rarely! Unimpressively, I love mie goreng instant noodles. They got me through my apprenticeship, and it makes me feel very nostalgic whenever I eat them.   

However, go-to staff meals for the team are things like slow roasted pork, or lasagne on colder days. I love Chatpate, a dry Nepalese noodle dish with cucumber, chili and puffed rice too! It’s important to put effort into family-style meals, to give back to the staff and nurture good eating and positivity ahead of service.  

Which are your five go-to dishes/drinks in restaurants or bars in Hong Kong?  

I loved the Banana Sour on the original menu at COA and sometimes if I’m lucky, they still make it for me now.  

I enjoy going to Nagahama No.1 Ramen for spicy miso ramen with an ice-cold beer! I also love their cold sesame noodles. 

best bites
Hotal Colombo Crab Night

In Australia we celebrate mud crab season so the Tamarind Chilli Crab at Hotal Colombo is something I really enjoy eating.  

Kozy in Causeway Bay for their cheese omelettes with chilli pepper on top.  

And the Fermented Bonito with shiso leaf and cream cheese from Hidden in Causeway Bay is one of my favourite things, it’s a very acquired taste but I love it.  

Little Bedu, Shop 2, G/F, 49-51A Gough Street, Central.

Cheat Day: Corey Riches, executive chef of Bedu, Meraki Hospitality Group

Sandra Kwong

Features Editor

A perpetually hungry individual paired with an acute dirty martini obsession. You'll catch Sandra waltzing around town from gallery openings to various happy hours. Usually waxing lyrical about her 10-step skincare routine or her latest gadget. Currently missing: long ski runs in Hanazono.

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