'I love eating in low-brow cafeterias...'

Filed on January 10, 2020

Talking food with Howard Lee Ko, Executive Chef, CÉ LA VI Dubai

Your best food-related experience.
My first fine dining restaurant degustation was when I worked in New York City as a prep cook. I was 21 years old and had saved up enough money to take a girl out to this nice dinner; to this day, it remains the best meal my life. Now, I have realised how food evokes memories and that it's not only about the food, but the company you have and the service you receive.

Who do you admire in the culinary world?
Chef Thomas Keller. His philosophy on mentorship was investing in the younger chefs to cultivate a legacy that will push this industry forward. No wonder he has a lot of Michelin star chefs come out of his kitchen. Corey Lee Benu and Grant Achatz Alinea are both 3-Michelin star chefs, to name a couple.

How often do you eat out? What's your favourite place around town?
I eat out often. I don't like to cook for myself. I love eating in either very low-brow cafeterias or exploring very high-end cuisine.

Your favourite culinary destination?
Loaded question! Every destination has their unique offerings with tractions and a story to tell through the cuisine. But I do love San Sebastian. Tapas Row is insane!

If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be?
I'd love to cook for the chefs who influenced who I am today. I'd serve them all on one table: Sal Marino, my mentor from my first kitchen in LA; Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood; Timothy Hollingsworth, who was chef de cuisine at The French Laundry when I worked there; Josiah Citrin of Melisse in Los Angeles; and Oliver Muller of DB Bistro Moderne in New York City.

You're asked to invent an unusual dish - what would it be?
Oyster ice cream, caviar, and seaweed fudge. I think this would actually taste quite good!

An ingredient/dish you can't stand.
Insects. I know there is a trend on insects in Nordic countries right now but I just can't. Really can't.

Do you cook for yourself at home too?
I might make myself a peanut butter jelly sandwich. It's my go-to comfort food.

Favourite comfort food?
Fried rice and Southern fried chicken wings together!

If you could choose a last meal, it would be...
Anything my mom wants to make for me. I miss her.

Where can we find you, when not in the kitchen?
I am really active, so you will probably find me in the middle of CrossFit, running or biking.
- Staff Reporter


 
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