Interview with Chef Christopher Ho
by Rohail Ali on Oct 22, 2023
We’re so excited to highlight another community chef that is making waves on the Hong Kong dining scene. A self-taught chef, Christopher Ho has dedicated himself to developing his unique take on blending local flavors with Western cooking techniques. This dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed, and Chris has worked alongside some of Hong Kong’s top chefs in unique dining experiences. His passion for elevating local flavors is coupled with a desire to promote sustainability in the kitchen, and he makes sure to consciously address lowering his food waste and carbon footprint in his recipes.
It always brings us immense joy to see our locally grown products treated with the same amount of love and respect that we have when we grow them. We’re proud to present Chris’ recipes here for all of you budding home chefs to try! Follow his cooking journey on Instagram @ho_la_ho_sik
Surprisingly, Chris hasn’t had any professional training, and has only been cooking for around three to four years. We found a lot of common ground in our approaches and discovered that we have a similar mantra: be curious, do it yourself, never stop experimenting. While we were planning our first farm by watching Youtube videos about building DIY aquaponics systems and sowing microgreens, Chris was watching Youtube videos of celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey to teach him the basics of his craft. From there, he experimented by adding his own twist to their recipes, influenced by growing up in a city with an incredibly rich, multicultural dining tradition.
We found a lot of common ground in our approaches and discovered that we have a similar mantra: be curious, do it yourself, never stop experimenting.
When Chris approaches a dish, he makes sure to let the ingredients shine. He's a firm believer that there is a wealth of incredible produce available in Hong Kong and that more people should seek these products out rather than relying on the convenience of supermarkets. "Sometimes people are distracted by the fancy imported seafood in luxury supermarkets, without appreciating the amazing seafood in our own fish markets." He wishes more restaurants would put the spotlight on their use of local ingredients to promote this movement and inspire a greater consciousness of where our food is coming from.
In order to achieve this in his own cooking, Chris often uses local produce to give Western recipes a Hong Kong twist. A great example of this is how he incorporated two classic local flavors, garlic chive and bok choy, into his pizza recipe by using our microgreens. He didn't just sprinkle some on top for garnishes as so many chefs might have done, but used them as primary components of the dish's main flavors, pairing them beautifully with creamy burrata and tangy tomato sauce. While it may have been more difficult to work in full grown bok choy leaves, the microgreens allowed him to use the flavors while retaining a touch of refinement.
Chris' use of local ingredients has been inspired by his personal drive to work a greater degree of sustainability into his cooking. He minimizes waste in smaller ways, such as strict portion control or using beeswax cloth instead of plastic cling film, and bigger ways like sourcing locally to reduce the carbon footprint of food miles. One drawback to sourcing locally, he says, can be the availability and variety of produce, but it's a problem that can be easily be solved with a some creativity.
In addition to considering the environmental impact of his cooking, Chris has been inspired by his work in the healthcare industry to be more conscientious about what he puts in his food. Locally sourced produce is often more nutritious simply by the virtue of being closer to the point of consumption. Over time, nutrition is degraded as fresh produce sits in trucks or on grocery shelves for days or even weeks before consumption. All of these factors were what initially led Chris to seek us out and collaborate with us on our mission to revitalize local food production. "After tasting the freshly hand-picked specialty leaves and microgreens at Common Farms, I could immediately sense the difference between your produce and the supermarket." We hope that more talented, young chefs like Christopher Ho will take up the rewarding challenge of seeking out the best local ingredients that Hong Kong has to offer and elevating them to a grander stage.
"After tasting the freshly hand-picked specialty leaves and microgreens at Common Farms, I could immediately sense the difference between your produce and the supermarket."
What is Chris’ favorite under-appreciated local vegetable?
- Chinese garlic chives. Although perhaps not underrated in Hong Kong local cuisine, Chris loves using Chinese garlic chives and believes they should be more widely recognized for their aromatic merits.
What are Chris’ favorite Common Farms products?
- Bok Choy microgreens. "Using this common vegetable as a microgreen makes it interesting and approachable. There are so many potential ways you could use it, making it easier to eat and reap the nutritional benefits."
- Paracress. "It has such an interesting, complex flavor. It tastes similar to Sichuan pepper and offers so many possibilities, packing huge amounts of flavor into a small package."
- Garlic chives: “Like paracress, it’s small but bursting with flavor."