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.
There’s a new kid on the block, and they’re bringing the heat.
Fireside is the latest concept by the Cupping Room group, helmed by Executive Chef Miguel Gallo. The restaurant forgoes modern cooking utilities, and only makes use of an open-fire grill fuelled by select varieties of wood and binchotan – a type of traditional Japanese charcoal. Resembling a sophisticated smokehouse, Fireside features their signature Mibrasa Parilla and tailor-made brick oven, a design process that Gallo describes, while chuckling, as a ‘nightmare’.
“When we started Doubleshot, I was trying to source smoked salmon or bacon, but I couldn’t really find any that I thought were incredible. So, I tried to smoke them myself, which led to the opening of Smoke & Barrels,” says Gallo. “I always wanted to work on a restaurant concept where smoking would be the main show. It’s not about the ethnicity of the food or the ingredients – but the technique. When you add the flavour of the smoke and the wood and the charcoal, it really elevates a dish.”
Where did your love for cooking originate?
I think a lot of people will say, well, our grandmothers. I come from a big family, and for me, it’s about the good memories that you associate cooking with. We always gathered in huge groups of about 15 people, while my cousins and my brother were running around, I was in the kitchen, helping and asking a lot of questions about what everything was.
Did you decide quite young that you wanted to get into the culinary world?
Not really. It sparked when I was in university, and my friends would come over to mine to study. I’d always cook for them and they’d comment that I should do this professionally. That’s when I decided that maybe I should give this a proper shot.
Tell us about your global journey.
I’m Venezuelan, my dad is Italian, my mum is half-Spanish so we’re really a mix of cultures. When I decided I wanted to cook, I went to Spain to get better trained. I went around a few restaurants, was even in El Bulli for a season – it completely changed my mind. I stayed in Barcelona for a few years before coming to Hong Kong.
What do you love about the Hong Kong food scene?
You can really find almost every ingredient here. Some products, when I was in Spain, you cannot even locally source there because 80% goes to export, so to see it in Hong Kong just readily available is amazing. It’s a very complete scene, and Hong Kong consumers are very F&B minded. They know what they want, and where to go to find the dishes they’re looking for.
Cheat Day time! Which are five indulgent sips or bites you delight in during your days off?
Fireside is currently in soft opening, with the grand opening date on 15th September.
Fireside, H Code The Steps 5th Floor, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, +852 6610 8689.