Thirty Years in the Kitchen (1956), written and published by Chan Wing, is a collection of cookbooks from the past that feature classic Cantonese recipe recipes written by a professional chef with thirty years of experience in the field.

ArChan Chan Kit-ying, the head chef of Cantonese Restaurant Ho Lee Fook located in Hong Kong’s SoHo neighborhood and who took on the position in 2021 following 13 years of cooking at home in Australia and Singapore and Singapore, shares with Richard Lord how it changed her life.

I reread it while I was living in Australia. I was born in Hong Kong and only moved to Australia in 2008, shortly after graduating from university to study to become a chef.

It was in 2016 that I was offered my first job as a head chef in Andrew McConnell’s Ricky & Pinky, a modern Chinese restaurant (in Melbourne). I completed my work experience in the JW Marriott in Hong Kong and later moved to Australia, and I had no Chinese culinary knowledge.

“30 Years in the Kitchen” (1956)”30 Years in the Kitchen” (1956) collection of cookbooks written by Chan Wing.

Reading is essential for me. It was my first time trying to learn how to cook Chinese food, and I was reading as many books as I could.

My family asked me, “OK, what’s typical Cantonese food? I have found books on modern cuisine and fusion, but I’d like to learn more about the food before I came into the world.” My father’s grandfather talked about the author’s work while he was a kid and suggested the books he had read to me.

From announcing 1,200 oysters daily to the opening of a restaurant, the experience of a chef

There were a few prevalent things, like the home cook and a return to the dynastic Kitchen. It’s more than just an instructional book; it also inspired me to dream about the food people ate in the day. Through these recipes, you will see the way people live.

Many chefs will look through the recipe book and then at an ingredient inside, wondering, “How can I translate that to one of my dishes?” For me, it’s a matter of background. I could have put it in the food because I read about it a few years ago.

It’s a fascinating aspect of Cantonese cuisine in that, with all the dishes, you’ll probably go to them (as a diner) with a preconceived notion of what you’ll get. This book is appealing to me because there are lots of things that remain relevant.

The inside is the interior of Ho Lee Fook, in Hong Kong’s SoHo neighborhood. 

I was required to study the food, and later, I needed to know how to modernize it. Many people expect me to update or change the version of the dish. However, I consider ways to make it the very best performance.

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At present, I’m in Ho Lee Fook, my relationship with Cantonese and the local food is much more ensconced.

I’ve been returning to this book for a while, and it’s a delight to read through; however, it also illustrates how much I’ve evolved since reading it at first. Ultimately, I decided to read more and gain essential knowledge.

Occasionally, I’d read a recipe from the book before I fell asleep to study the formula in greater detail. Today, I’m trying to do it slowly.