Inspired by his grandmother's cooking, Tong Chee Hwee reinvents traditional Chinese flavours and techniques with distinctly modern flair. As executive chef of the ever-expanding Hakkasan Group, he is known around the world for offering the very best in premium Cantonese cuisine. He knew from a young age that he wanted to become a chef. Growing up in China his interest in cooking was in large part inspired by his grandmother, who he remembers as being a prolific traditional cook: ‘her dishes were always delicious and they are some of my earliest memories. That’s what made me become a chef.’
His family, who all loved food as much as he did, were supportive of his decision and Tong Chee Hwee began his culinary career at the age of eighteen. Moving to Singapore, Tong Chee Hwee began working at the prestigious Happy Valley restaurant under Cheng Hon Chau. Chef Cheng was known as a master of Cantonese cuisine, and it was under his mentorship that Tong Chee Hwee honed his own skills and techniques. Working under Chef Cheng also taught Tong Chee Hwee an important lesson about patience and respect – Chef Cheng favoured helping his chefs to learn rather than shouting at them when mistakes were made, a philosophy Tong Chee Hwee still adopts today in his own kitchens.