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Best Presidential Suites in Hong Kong

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The Peninsula

The grande dame of Hong Kong hotels has had a little nip and tuck recently including the presidential show piece: The Peninsula Suite.

Based on the 26th floor of the Pensinsula tower, the elegant suite with its minimalist deluxe decor has a full view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island skyline – “the money shot” of HK vistas. And there’s high ceilings with full length windows, an in room telescope and private balcony from which to enjoy it from.

For an 89 year old The Pen is surprisingly modern. In a nod to the hotel’s mix of traditional and 21st century, the sitting room features both a grand piano and floor standing hi fi speakers. More techy touches can be found throughout with everything from lighting to do not disturb signs controlled by LED touch screen tablets that are fool proof to use.

There’s also a serious screening room with an 85-inch, flat-screen, Blu-ray plasma television, surround-sound speakers, amplifier and subwoofer, as well as automated, reclining seats.

If you’re more body con that couch potato (or a bit of both) there’s also a private gym with state of the art equipment and a harbour view.

A chauffer driven Peninsula Rolls Royce in signature green is of course on call 24 hours for Peninsula Suite guests.

Price: HKD128,000 (USD16,411)

www.peninsula.com

 

The Apartment Suite Living Room.jpg

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental

The newest suite on the block, the presidential suite at the boutique Landmark Mandarin hotel has just been revamped as The Apartment and as such has the feel of a very chic residence. You’ll walk into a spacious entry hall which leads to a vast open plan living area that spans lounge, study, dining and bar.

One of the Landmark’s USPs is that it’s bang slap in the centre of Central Hong Kong. That doesn’t make for the prettiest of views but Joyce Wang’s clever design keeps the eye in the room with gorgeous furniture and furnishings of buttery leather and sumptuous velvet in soft blue and caramel. The look is best described as Art Deco meets Mad Men glamour.  Natural wood floors and hand tufted rugs add to the homely feel (albeit a very stylish one).

The Apartment is dotted with coffee table books with a fashion bent and fashionistas will love the hotel’s proximity to all the international designer boutiques in the adjoining luxury Landmark mall (handily accessed by elevator).

Come cocktail hour the in suite bar has every conceivable utensil in eye catching copper along with Japanese whisky and boutique gin. The full service kitchen includes Gaggeneau appliances, a US size fridge, wine cellar (stocked with Dom Perignon) and cute touches such as Smeg blender and mixing bowl.

LMHKG redesigned L900 bathrooom Portrait (1MB)

The suite also features the Landmark’s trademark huge bathroom with a circular, seven foot bath (call for a bath experience with bubbles and champagne) and his and hers, light sensor operated, walk in wardrobes off the bedroom.

A connecting room can be booked for your kids/helper/personal assistant/security detail as desired.

Price HK$68,000

www.mandarinoriental.com/landmark

 

 

The Presidential Suite, Intercontinental Hong Kong

The InterContinental

The Presidential Suite at the InterConti is the largest in Hong Kong at a mammoth 7,000 square foot. As the hotel is on the Kowloon side, right on the water’s edge, it has a view of Victoria harbour and Hong Kong Island. And the duplex space, designed by Singaporean firm LTW, is designed to have a panoramic view from every room. It can be hired with just one master bedroom or with four adjoining rooms to make a five bed suite.

Among its many features the suite includes a dining room seating up to 12 people (food may be ordered from any of the hotel’s restaurants including Nobu and Rech by Alain Ducasse), and a private gym. The bathroom has a shower for two people with a view of the harbour and spa-like “rain forest experience”, plus sauna and steam room.

Want even more? There’s a 2,500 sq ft wrap around roof terrace complete with a showstopper infinity pool and jacuzzi. Private tai chi or fitness sessions are offered on the terrace or in the gym as well and in room hair and spa services can also be arranged.

Price: HK$98,000 for the Master Suite, HK$118,000 for all 5 bedrooms

http://www.intercontinental.com

 

 

MOHKG-Mandarin Suite Living Room (High Res.)

Mandarin Oriental

The presidential suite at “the old Mandarin” is aptly named the Mandarin Suite. The hotel’s appeal is its classy, old world Chinese charm and in keeping with this all the furniture in the suite has either been expertly restored or is tastefully handcrafted. Priceless objets d’art and antiques are dotted throughout including Gerard D’A Henderson murals adorning the walls of the sitting room, a Qing Dynasty court robe which has been framed and hangs in the entertainment room and a Tang style horse in the dining room.

It’s not all old school though. The en suite bathroom off the master bedroom (there’s an option to expand into an additional bedroom and sitting area) includes a steam room and bathtub with hydrotherapy jets plus there’s an adjoining couples’ spa room for treatments.

The double height living room has full length windows offering a glimpse of Victoria Harbour from the Hong Kong Island side while a balcony runs the entire length of the suite on two sides with both harbour and cityscape views of the Central area.

Price HKD78,000

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/hongkong/

 

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The Ritz-Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton occupies the top – that’s the 112th to 118th – floors of the ICC skyscraper and the hotel’s sultry Presidential Suite is on the dizzyingly high 117th. The suite’s corner position allows a 270 degree view of Hong Kong – a slightly different vista to other hotels in TST, not just because of its sheer height but because the R-C is based in West Kowloon which juts out into Victoria Harbour.

The just under 4,000 sq ft space is slinkily designed in smoky tones of marble and mirrors with a large sitting room and a separate dining area featuring a round table for eight people under a stunning, contemporary chandelier.

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If you’re in need of pampering you’ve come to the right place; in the bathroom there’s an oversized square shaped tub, space for a massage table and huge shower area. The towels and bathrobes (along with the pillow cases) are monogrammed. Added to all that there’s a vast walk in closet – in case you’ve been shopping in the gargantuan Elements mall which the Ritz sits on top of – and a private sauna for relaxing your shopped out limbs in afterwards.

Price: HK$139,000

http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/china/hong-kong

 

 

Top 3 Hotels (and their Restaurants) for Hong Kong’s 20th SAR Anniversary

Fireworks as seen from Kerry Hotel

View of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour from the Kerry Hotel

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s SAR so expect an even more fireworks than usual (ahem). The celebrations start at 8pm on July 1st so make sure you have your hotel room and restaurant booked. These are our three top spots – all on the Kowloon side for optimum viewing:

Kerry Hotel

Newcomer the Kerry Hotel has been causing a stir with it’s modernist, Andre Fu, design and stunning views of Victoria Harbour. Book a ringside seat on the Red Sugar terrace where drinks and snacks will be served.

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Red Sugar terrace at Kerry Hotel

The hotel is also offering an overnight package for July 1st with Sea View rooms start at a rate of HK$2,340 + 10% Book directly with the hotel.

www.shangri-la.com/hongkong/kerry.

The Intercontinental

Fireworks Intercont View of the fireworks in the harbour from the Intercontinental hotel

The Interconti is perched right on the harbour’s edge giving it some fantastic views from many of its guests rooms where you feel you’re right on the water and the rooftop Presidential Suite as well as the Lobby Lounge and Harbourside restaurant plus Rech by Alain Ducasse and Nobu if you can bag a window table. All the restaurants have special menus planned for July 1st including a five course tasting menu with optional wine pairing at Rech and an eight course omakase menu at Nobu.

http://www.hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com

The Ritz Carlton

Tosca at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Many of the rooms at the Ritz Carlton have dizzying views of the harbour (check you are facing the right way) but perhaps the best is from Tosca, the hotel’s Italian fine dining restaurant.

For Hong Kong SAR 20th anniversary chef Pino Navarra has created a four course and a six course set dinner to enjoy with firework display as a backdrop.

Countdown to the second Singapore Michelin Guide

[UPDATE: One week to go until the second Michelin Guide Singapore is announced on June 29th 2017 at The Fullerton Hotel. The inaugural event was held at RW Sentosa and pundits were a little surprised when four of that venues restaurants were awarded Michelin stars. With the gala held at The Fullerton this year can we expect to see one the hotel’s eateries such as Jade awarded?

The evening will include a five course dinner with dishes created by the chefs Seita Nakahara of Terra, Singapore (one Michelin star), Jason Tan of Corner House, Singapore (one star), Tam Kwok Fung of Jade Dragon (two stars), Macau and Curtis Duffy of three Michelin starred Grace in Chicago. Read on for our thoughts on the current, 2016 list]

Six other establishments obtain two stars in this 2016 edition of the MICHELIN Singapore guide.jpg

Before the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore was launched on July 21st I was sure of two things: that at least one hawker stall would gain a star and that Joel Robuchon would be awarded three. The former because I could see the headlines about “the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant” pinging around the world (and so could Michelin, I’ll wager) and the latter because Robuchon tends to collect three Michelin stars around the globe as naturally as breathing.

And so, as you’ve probably heard, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle became the proud recipients of a Michelin star apiece while Joel Robuchon clocked up another three stars for his fine dining establishment in Singapore (read on for the full list). All announced, in a world first for Michelin, to much fanfare: a songstress in glitter crooning When You Wish Upon a Star and dancers in chefs uniforms waving giant forks and spoons.

Even the three star reveal had some drama: director Michael Ellis teased us at first that not every location was worthy of three Michelin stars before announcing he did indeed have a red envelope and that it was not empty.The departure of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants had left a restaurant awards ceremony shaped hole in Singapore. Asia’s 50 Best, an industry only event, debuted in Singapore three years ago and left for Bangkok this year amid rumours that the Singapore Tourism Board was cutting its funding.

Enter the Michelin Guide Singapore and its Gala Dinner Awards Ceremony – a new approach for the tyre company come publisher who usually simply announce the list at a press conference.The event was part sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board, who flew in media from around the world, and open to anyone who could pay SG$400 for a ticket. Much has been made of the price but Singapore is a city that flourishes on expensive “exclusive” events and the price is equal to what you’d expect to pay for dinner at many of the Michelin starred restaurants. Naturally there was no San Pellegrino or Acqua Panna in sight, the “official water partners” being Evian and Badoit.Three stars for the Joël Robuchon restaurant in Singapore-2 Joel Robuchon – the only three Michelin stars in Singapore

The food at the dinner was flagged up as by Joel Robuchon, owner of two restaurants at RW Sentosa, the “title partner” in whose convention space the Michelin awards were held. Robuchon, it was announced later that evening, was the recipient of two Michelin stars for L’atelier de Joel Robuchon and the coveted three for Joel Robuchon Restaurant – the only three star Michelin winner in Singapore. Two of the other restaurants openly given credit for catering the event – Forest and Osia – are also tenants of RW Sentosa. They both received one Michelin star.

We can only imagine how Marina Bay Sands, the rival casino and celebrity restaurant joint across town, are spitting (roulette) chips. They clocked up just two stars (as opposed to RW Sentosa’s total of seven) for Wolfgang Puck’s Cut and Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda – two highly acclaimed restaurants.On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that whatever the talents of a hawker stall chef they could be on a par with these two establishments and many others on the one star list including Shinji by Kanesaka, Jaan and The Kitchen at Bacchanalia. And there were many on the bulging one star list that were equal to two. There were also some puzzling omissions. Where was the Tippling Club? Wild Rocket? Gunther’s? Saint Pierre? I could go on.

We have eaten at Joel Robuchon in Singapore and while the food was undoubtedly excellent there were a few snags. Two of the dishes that were brought to the table were not the ones I ordered and our waiter had no idea that there were wine pairings available – as written clearly on the menu. It’s not what I would describe as a three star experience however Michelin states: “The service levels have no bearing on the award.” That surprises me as I would have thought it’s a vital component of a restaurant “worth a special journey”. If anyone has an old copy of a European based Michelin Guide I’d love to know if includes the same criteria.

Here’s the list:

*** Three Stars

Joel Robuchon

** Two Stars

Andre

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Les Amis

Odette

Shisen Hanten

Shoukouwa

*One Star

Alma

The Kitchen at Bacchanalia

Beni

Candlenut

Corner House

Crystal Jade Golden Palace

Cut

Forest

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Jaan

Lei Garden

Osia

Putien (Kitchener Road)

Rhubarb

Shinji (Raffles hotel)

Shinji (St Regis)

Summer Pavillion

Sushi Ichi

Terra

The Song of India

Waku Ghin

 

[This article was originally posted in 2016.]

The Rivers Less Travelled – New Journeys in Myanmar

 

The intriguing Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, flanked by Thailand, Laos, China and India, has opened up to tourism in recent years and one of the best ways to see the country is by boat. As many of the roads in Myanmar are in poor condition, some villages and areas can only been accessed via the waterways. Belmond Orcaella, a boutique sized river cruiser, is designed to reach remote, less travelled areas of Myanmar between July and March, avoiding the hottest and rainiest months of the year.

As a passenger you may choose to start your journey in the bucolic central region of Myanmar at Bagan or Mandalay, or alternatively at Yangon in the south of the country near the Bay of Bengal. Yangon, the former capital, is home to the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda, fascinating markets and historic colonial buildings as well as Southeast Asia’s largest reclining Buddha. Waterways connect Yangon to the great Ayeyerwady River which runs north to south through the centre of Myanmar. So for guests staying at Belmond’s Governor’s Residence hotel in Yangon (below) it’s possible to begin your trip here.

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Back to Bombana

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Chef Umberto Bombana is the recipient of Asia’s Best Restaurants’ Lifetime Achievement Award 2017

[UPDATE: Never let it be said that Chopstix isn’t prepared to admit changing our minds from time to time. On our recent return visit to 8 and a half Otto e Mezzo Bombana we were pleasantly surprised at the vast improvement in service. There seems to be a high ratio of staff to customers and the whole operation is now very slick. We’re still not sure about the 3 Michelin stars but nonetheless less, bravo Bombana. Read on for our original review.]

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Veuve Clicquot’s Extraordinary new Champagne

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This week Veuve Clicquot launched its newest champagne in Hong Kong and Singapore. While the name Extra Brut, Extra Old may not roll off the tongue this champagne is certainly very pleasing upon it.

Extra Brut, Extra Old is made entirely from the house’s reserve wines – a first for Veuve Clicquot, and it is thought, for champagne. Blending still wines from 1988 to 2010 cellar master Dominique Demarville has achieved a champagne that is delicate, fresh and silky.

“The lower dosage is a consequence of using the reserve wine. And it’s Extra Old because of the double ageing,” says Dominique. “It’s a traditional at Veuve Clicquot to age on the lees to get the complexity of taste and the creaminess of texture. [For this champagne] we put the wines the bottle for a second ageing.”

The reduced sugar of the lower dosage also means it pairs well with food so look out for it on wine lists across the Fragrant Harbour and the Lion City.

http://www.veuveclicquot.com

Rocking the Red Carpet at Cannes

70th Anniversary Red Carpet Arrivals - The 70th Annual Cannes Film Festival

In the darkest of days sometimes it’s good to have some beauty to look at and frippery to indulge in. Here: dazzling diamond jewels by Chopard worn by Charlize Theron and Liu Wen on the red carpet of the 70th anniversary of the Cannes Film Fesitval.  Because they Cannes Cannes Cannes…. (with apologies to Baz Luhrmann and Moulin Rouge!)

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Some thoughts on the first Singapore Michelin Guide

Michelin announced the first selection of the MICHELIN guide Singapore 2016-2

The Michelin Star winners in Singapore

[UPDATE: The Michelin Guide Singapore will be announced on June 29th 2017 at The Fullerton Hotel. The event will include a five course dinner with dishes created by the chefs Seita Nakahara of Terra, Singapore (one Michelin star), Jason Tan of Corner House, Singapore (one star), Tam Kwok Fung of Jade Dragon (two stars), Macau and Curtis Duffy of three Michelin starred Grace in Chicago.]

Before the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore was launched on July 21st I was sure of two things: that at least one hawker stall would gain a star and that Joel Robuchon would be awarded three. The former because I could see the headlines about “the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant” pinging around the world (and so could Michelin, I’ll wager) and the latter because Robuchon tends to collect three Michelin stars around the globe as naturally as breathing.

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Star Chefs on the Rise in Hong Kong

PG in Central (mid res)

Pierre Gagniere in Central, Hong Kong

 

Hong Kong is set for another influx of Western celebrity chefs as Yannick Alleno’s long awaited bistro, Terroir Parisien, is slated to open in Central this summer, Bjorn Frantzen has opened Frantzen’s Kitchen and Jean-Georges Vongerichten has returned to the city with Mercato. David Thompson and Wolfgang Puck are also thought to be searching for sites here. But Asian expansion doesn’t mean guaranteed success: Mario Batali’s Carnenvino has closed in Hong Kong, Gordon Ramsay shut his restaurant in Tokyo and both Guy Savoy and Jason Atherton shipped out of Singapore. So what makes some international restaurants thrive in foreign markets while others falter?

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Alain Ducasse revitalises Hong Kong presence with Rech restaurant

Rech by Alain Ducasee Interconti HK.jpg

Legendary chef Alain Ducasse’s first foray into food was not a runaway success. As a child growing up in France he would watch his grandmother cooking and aged about 11 he decided to make a chocolate roulade himself. “My grandmother let me attempt this, although I was not up to the task,” Ducasse recalls. “Chocolate ended up everywhere and in the end the cake did not resemble a roulade at all!”

Luckily for the culinary world Ducasse was not put off by his early endeavour. Last month saw the opening of his 25th restaurant worldwide. He has chosen Asia for the first international outpost of Rech Alain Ducasse, a French seafood restaurant replacing his Spoon concept at the Intercontinental hotel in Hong Kong.

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A Private Island Paradise for World Earth Day

Cempedak Island 1

What’s the story?
Cempedak (pronounced Chemp-e-dak) is a new private island resort in the Indonesian archipelago, five years in the making. This just opened venture is from the same team behind nearby Nikoi Island, another Robinson Crusoe-esque set up.

How does it differ from Nikoi Island then?
It’s a few notches up on the design and cuisine front. What they can’t better is the service which is legendarily good on Nikoi – it’s as equally smiley and attentive on Cempedak. The main difference is that Nikoi is geared more towards families with young children whereas Cempedak is for adults only.

You’ve got my attention, how do I get there?
Catch a ferry from Singapore to Bintan (an hour’s crossing) where you’ll be picked up by private car and driven across the island (another hour) then it’s a 30 minute speedboat ride to Cempedak. Trust us, it’s worth it. Or you could arrive direct by yacht.

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Feeling Like Royalty at Raffles

One of the three imposing doormen at the entrance to Raffles

 

[UPDATE: Raffles closes the doors of its magnificent main building (which houses the lobby, Raffles Grill, the Tiffin Room and suites) for refurb on August 12th 2017. Between now and then you can take a Last Lingering Look at an Icon tour through the historic hotel.]

Checking into Raffles is an uplifting experience. When you pull up the gravel driveway outside the white wedding cake of a hotel in the heart of Singapore, you’re greeted by a toweringly tall sikh doorman, bearded and turbaned and wearing an imposing sashed uniform. He ushers you into the lobby, all cool marble flooring and fluted columns that reach up three lofty storeys. There is none of the hubbub of other hotels – only guests or “residents” are allowed inside – so the atmosphere is reassuringly calm and rarified. To borrow from Holly Golightly, you feel as though nothing bad could ever happen at Raffles.

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Is there a need for Best Female Chef awards?

Lanshu Chen at the pass

Asia’s Best Female Chef 2014 Lanshu Chen at Le Mout, Taiwan

[UPDATE: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 have been announced amid the usual controversy. Not least because of the lack of female chefs at the helm of restaurants on the list. Highlighted by the fact that the restaurant run by The World’s Best Female Chef 2017, Ana Ros, doesn’t even make it onto the World’s 50 Best restaurants list. (Hisa Franko in Slovenia is number 69 on the “long list”).

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards are no better. Lanshu Chen of Le Mout in Taiwan remains the only recipient of the Asia’s Best Female Chef accolade to be (sole) head chef of a restaurant that’s also recognised as one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. While Bo.Lan in Bangkok which consistently makes the top 50 is helmed by another previous winner, Bo Songvisava, she does so with her husband Dylan Jones (the “Lan” in Bo.Lan).

This year’s Asia’s Best Female Chef May Chow’s eatery, Little Bao in Hong Kong, doesn’t feature in the top 50, neither did any of the restaurants overseen by last years’ winner Margarita Fores of the Philippines or the Tate Dining Room in Hong Kong run by Vicky Lau, Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015.

Which begs the question, is there any point in naming a Best Female Chef if their restaurants are not deemed good enough to be voted one of the Best 50 Restaurants? Or is it further proof that more spotlight on and awareness about female chefs is needed?]

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Is this the best restaurant in Hong Kong?

Amber.jpg

[UPDATE: Amber is now number 24 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2017 and remains the only restaurant in Hong Kong to be recognised on the list.]

This month the iconic 50 Best Restaurants in the World awards roll around again. Last year, a Dutch born, French trained chef working in Hong Kong achieved something no one else in China has managed for six years – an entry on the coveted list.

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5 Minutes with Guy Savoy

Guy Savoy

Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris has retained three Michelin stars for 15 years running. Chopstix caught up with Guy Savoy himself, one of the most personable chefs in the business, on a recent trip to Asia.

Who inspired you to become a chef?
My mother. Firstly, I liked to eat and my mother was a good cook. I didn’t imagine how much work went into it though then I watched my mother one day. I saw how she blended flour, butter, eggs, salt and sugar. The ingredients were not interesting separately but then they became a cake. For me, it was like magic.

What is your food heaven and hell?
I love ice cream; it is an addiction. I don’t like capsicum. When they’re cooked they’re ok but I can’t eat raw ones.

What do you like to cook for yourself?
For a snack: toasted rustic bread with a thick layer of cold bread and some sardines and ground pepper on top. The most important thing is to have cold butter.

What would you be if you couldn’t be a chef?
Nothing. I can’t imagine being anything else.

Who would you most like to cook for?
Me.

What would you prepare as a last meal?
I am too too young to think about that!

What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten?
Crocodile finger at Justin Quek’s restaurant in Singapore [Sky on 57 at Marina Bay Sands] and then a month ago, ants in The Amazon. In France we eat frog’s legs and snails, that’s part of our culture. Eating ants is not normal for us.

What’s the best restaurant we’ve never heard of?
My mother’s. I’ve never found better.

The Bling Ring arrives in Hong Kong

The Pink Star_mounted

Feast your eyes upon The Pink Star, a 59.60-carat oval mixed-cut pink diamond that’s the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has ever graded.

It’s up for auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on 4 April 2017 with estimated sales price in excess of US$60 million / HK$468 million.

Paddles at the ready…

Magical Mallorca

 

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Chopstix makes a special European foray this month in homage to the annual reopening of the Belmond La Residencia hotel.

The hillside village of Deia, on the north west coast of Mallorca, embodies “the other side” of the largest of the Balaeriac islands. One that’s altogether more sophisticated and relaxed. Distinctive honey stone buildings with their terracotta roofs and green shutters are staggered in tiered terraces down the hill, punctuated by verdant trees and reached by tiny winding streets. Added to all this is the appealing weather: warm in spring and autumn and balmy in high summer. It’s little wonder that this enchanting enclave with its special energy has become a refuge for artists and the internationally famous. At its heart sits Belmond La Residencia.

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Ode to Odette

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Odette restaurant, Singapore

[UPDATE: Odette has entered Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant 2017 list at number 9 making it the highest new entry and the highest new entry since the list was created.]

Julien Royer, formerly head chef of the acclaimed Jaan, now has his own restaurant in the form of Odette, a bread roll’s throw away from his alma mater, within Singapore’s stunning new National Gallery.

Odette is named in homage to Royer’s grandmother. And the family theme continues as the dreamy design is down to artist Dawn Ng – wife of the restaurant’s co owner, Wee Teng Wen of the Lo and Behold group – in conjunction with Universal Design Studio.

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Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Rolls Around Again

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A dish at Narisawa – Asia’s inaugural Best Restaurant

With the fifth incarnation of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants being held on February 21st, Chopstix looks back at the launch of the list in 2013:

On Monday evening [February 25th 2013] the best restaurant in Asia will be announced. Whatever your viewpoint on awards and rankings, the winner is certain to be thrust to international fame and a year of being officially referred to as “Asia’s best restaurant” across the media. At least, such is the precedent of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, the creators of which are behind this launch.

Back in 2002, journalists at the UK industry magazine, Restaurant, came up with the idea of running The World’s 50 Best Restaurants as a feature which they knew would ruffle a few feathers and create publicity in the process. They couldn’t have predicted quite how huge their creation would become though.

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The Rise of Bangkok’s Hotel Residences

ICONSIAM-MO_living.jpg The Residences by Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

This week sees the opening of 137 Pillars Residences, a hotel residence concept at the top of an exclusive Bangkok tower block from the owners of the luxury boutique 137 House in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.

The furnished residences are available to rent and come with access to hotel-like facilities including fitness, wellness and all day dining.

“The market for serviced residences with inclusive services and convenience is expanding in Bangkok,” says Christopher Stafford, COO of 137 Pillars Hotels and Resorts.

“The trend in residential rentals is changing from long term stays to shorter term visits. We will also provide temporary storage of personal effects for this highly mobile group of business & leisure travellers.”

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First Look at the Aman Shanghai

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Aman Resorts new hotel just outside Shanghai, its fourth in China, has been named Amanyangyun after the ancient Chinese phrase Yang Yun meaning “the nurturing of clouds” and will open in autumn this year.

This “renovation like no other” has been a ten year project to save and transplant endangered ancient trees and historic buildings from the flood planes of Jiangxi.

Some 50 Ming and Qing Dynasty houses have been preserved and reconstructed by master craftsman in their new home just outside Shanghai. And traditional Chinese architects have added new buildings to blend with the historic structures.

Antique Villa

10,000 camphor trees have also made the 800 kilometre journey, overseen by expert botanists. They’ve been replanted in native soil and face the same direction as they had previously. Three years later they are said to be flourishing.

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As well as the historic houses which are now four bedroomed villas with pools, there are newly built one bedroom club suites designed by Kerry Hill Associates the architect behind Aman Tokyo.

Club Suite

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Amanyangung also features several dining options, a Club Lounge, banqueting hall and of course a spa.

Dining Terrace

Dining Terrace

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Love is all you need (especially when it’s a Tiffany diamond pendant)

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Rose gold – tick, diamonds – tick, LOVE.

http://www.tiffany.com

Raffles Rings in the Changes for the Singapore Sling

Raffles 1915 gin by Sipsmith Raffles 1915 gin by Sipsmith

[UPDATE: The Long Bar at Raffles Singapore is closed from today for refurbishment until 2018 but Singapore Slings will be continue to be served at the hotel’s Bar and Billiard Room during 2017.]

Take equal measures of quality and tradition, add a dash of modernity and a splash of serendipity, and you have the perfect recipe to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Raffles Hotel’s Singapore Sling.

The gin-based cocktail is said to have been invented at Raffles, Singapore by barman Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915. By chance Sam Galsworthy, the co-founder of Sipsmith artisan gin, visited the iconic hotel and requested a meeting with the F&B director the year before the landmark anniversary. And Galsworthy happens to be a descendant of Sir Stamford Raffles – the British statesman who founded Singapore and after whom the hotel was named.

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Longines Masters Lands in Hong Kong

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The Longines Masters show jumping event is in town until Feb 12th. We absolutely adore their artwork by Italian artist Riccardo Guasco who currently lives in Wales.

http://www.longinesmasters.com/en

The Romance of the Railway: On Board the Venice Simplon Orient Express

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VSOE

Now synonymous with luxury train travel, Agatha Christie and that infamous journey, the original Euro Night train number 469, monikered the more romantic sounding “Express d’Orient”, completed its inaugural journey from Paris bound for Constantinople (Istanbul) in October 1883. The train which Christie caught, and placed her fictional sleuth Hercule Poirot onboard, however was the Simplon Orient-Express – one of several luxury sleeper trains that cropped up as an offshoot linking the port town of Calais in northern France with Istanbul and ran through the golden age of travel in the 1920s and 30s.

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Strut Your Stuff in the Year of the Rooster

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These red frill sandals by Gianvito Rossi are perfect for wearing throughout the Chinese new Year of the Rooster.

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, currently with free shipping to the UK and Hong Kong on this link:

Enjoy Free Express Shipping on orders of $100 or more to the United Kingdom.

Or for US residence receive a complimentary gift card:

Earn a Gift Card up to $700*. Use code FEB2017. Valid 1/31 – 2/2. Online Only 1/31 – 2/1. Online & In Stores 2/2. Shop Now!

The Allure of Chanel Couture

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Lily Rose Depp wearing Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2017 Pic: Lucile Perron

“A wedding is very special at Chanel,” says Madame Marie-Louise de Clermont-Tonnerre, the gloriously named and exquisitely dressed international spokeswoman who oversees the house’s couture division. The House of Chanel shares the same superstitions as other bridal establishments: garters are encouraged, the presence of anyone other than the bride’s mother and bridesmaids at the fittings is discouraged, and the groom is not allowed to see the dress beforehand to guard against bad luck – but there the similarities end.

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Looking for a London Bolthole for Valentine’s?

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Look no further: 45 Park Lane is the Best Boutique Hotel in Europe (according to the European Hospitality Awards 2016.)

[UDPATE: Couples staying at 45 Park Lane can dine on a three-course Valentine’s Dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant in Europe (£115 per person on February 14). 45 Park Lane’s Valentine’s package includes one night accommodation for two with a complimentary upgrade subject to availability, a bottle of Lanson Champagne and English breakfast for two. From £610 in a Superior King, £955 in a Park View Studio Suite; valid February 10-19, subject to availability.]

What’s the story behind it?
Not just a glitzy address, 45 Park Lane is the newly opened younger, cooler sibling of The Dorchester hotel. Based next door to the grande dame, it’s more of a boutique affair with just 45 rooms and one restaurant (headed by a celebrity chef) packaged in a more modern design than The Dorch.

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First look at Aman’s new Spa Houses

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Spa House, Amanoi

Aman has unveiled a new Spa House concept, a first for the exclusive resort group and part of its recently launched Wellness programme, at Amanoi, Vietnam.

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Best hotel restaurants in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year Fireworks Dinners

If you’re in Hong Kong on January 29th make sure you have a room with a view – of Victoria Harbour for the Chinese New Year fireworks. Here’s our lucky number eight for firework dinners:

Kowloon side:

The Intercontinental

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View of the fireworks in the harbour from the Intercontinental hotel

The Interconti is perched right on the harbour’s edge so many of the guest rooms have fantastic views as well as the Harbourside restaurant and Nobu if you can bag a window table. Both restaurants are offering a Chinese New Year Fireworks Dinner Menu.
http://www.hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com

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Asia’s New Luxury Travel Club for Chinese New Year and Beyond.

 

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Afini

 

If you haven’t yet booked a Chinese New Year break you may want to sign up to Afini, a new luxury travel club, pronto.

Asia based Afini promises the privacy and home comforts of a luxury residence combined with the consistent quality and top service of an exclusive hotel which sounds like a dream come true to Chopstix. As such they are particularly appealing for groups of friends or extended families – and perfect for a CNY reunion dinner.

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Best Feet Forward for 2017

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[UPDATE: The Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio at The Oriental Spa, Hong Kong is the first to feature BGA InSoles, tailor made to slot inside your shoes. Studio manager Albin Brion will custom make the insoles to fit your feet and address your specific needs after assessing  your posture and weight distribution. Turns out the ballerinas by a very famous designer that Chopstix has been wearing religiously have been terrible for our feet as they provide no support whatsoever.

The insoles are designed for flats rather than heels and we suggest taking a pair that are one size bigger than your usual shoe size – luckily we had pair of Common Projects leather sneakers in our usual size but which tend to fit a size too large. Following the 30 mins consultation your unique insoles will be made in an hour. Wearing them, Bastien says, will result in improved comfort and stability. We certainly found them immediately comfortable and after a month a chronic foot pain has improved.]

The Oriental Spa at the Landmark Mandarin hotel is Chopstix’s favourite spa in Hong Kong. As well as the spacious, gorgeously designed heat and water rooms there’s another reason to love it: Bastien Gonzalez who tends to the talons of celebrities and supermodels has a mani pedi studio here.

The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong

The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong

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Foodie Cruises

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Seabourn Encore

[UPDATE: Thomas Keller oversees The Grill onboard the luxurious Seabourn cruises including the Seabourn Encore which departs from Singapore tomorrow for her inaugural voyage around Indonesia. The Grill by Thomas Keller, designed by Adam Tihany, is inspired by traditional American chophouses and features updated classics such as steaks with creamed spinach and Lobster Thermidor. Caesar Salads and ice cream sundaes will be prepared table side. http://www.seabourn.com]

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Best and Worst Hotels of the Year

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Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

The Good

Good is an understatement: exceptional would be more apt when describing the best hotel Chopstix checked into this year: the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, India.

There are some hotels that have such a stellar reputation that staying at them can be a disappointment. Not so the Lake Palace which actually exceeded  our expectations.

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Early Alert for Smythson Sale

Attention luxury lovers: the Smythson sale will begin on Sunday December 25th at 7am. For 40 per cent off select Smythson products click on the link below.

[UPDATE: Sale is now up to 50 per cent off]

Smythson

New JW Marriott opens in Singapore

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[UPDATE: South Beach hotel has reopened at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach. While retaining the design features of the original, the hotel includes five new F&B concepts including the Court Martial bar (below). More additions, including an Alan Yau restaurant and a spa are expected in March 2017.]

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Two Fat Ducklings in the Lion City – part three

Harvest Salad at Bacchanalia, Singapore Harvest Salad at Bacchanalia, Singapore

[UPDATE: We bid a fond farewell to chef Ivan Brehm who completed his last service at the Kitchen at Bacchanalia last night. Sous chef Mark Ebbels also left the restaurant earlier this month. Chopstix thanks them for bringing great food, integrity and passion to the Singapore dining scene and can’t wait to see what they do next.]

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Is a Woman’s Place in the Professional Kitchen?

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[UPDATE: Hong Kong has clocked up a second Asia’s Best Female Chef award with May Chow (pictured above), chef and owner of Little Bao in Hong Kong and Bangkok (home to the award’s inaugural winner, ‘Bo’ Songvisava of Bo.lan), being named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017. Chow, who opened Little Bao as a pop up in Hong Kong in 2013 and has staged at Bo.lan says: “I hope I can serve as a role model for other Asian female chefs, providing hope and opportunities for those who want to pursue their passions.”]

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Come on in – to Six Storeys on Soho

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Six Storeys on Soho

If you’re in London this month, do yourself a favour and book a spot at the new Six Storeys on Soho, a townhouse turned events space on Soho Square.

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A Trip to Remember

Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle

Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle

[UDATE: There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether elephants and tourists in Thailand can ever be a good mix. Here’s John Roberts, the founder of the Elephant Foundation (which works with the Four Seasons Gold Triangle) on the subject: “Certainly elephants should all be wild, where they’re free to make their own decisions and perform ecosystem services. This is the reason a large amount of the Foundation’s money and effort is spent keeping wild elephants wild.

“Thailand, however, has around 3,500 non-wild elephants and we also need to find ways to look after them. There isn’t enough wild to put them back into, so a well-planned tourism activity such as ours is a great way to do that – they get to walk around as a group, meet new people and lead a rich and varied elephant life. The elephants enjoy it: there seems to be a modern misconception that captive elephants live entirely in misery and fear no matter how you look after them. I have to say that in 16 years of living among elephants I have seen no evidence of this – I have seen elephants looked after badly and I would never seek to bring a wild elephant into captivity but I’m entirely comfortable with this as a way to keep those already in captivity fed, watered and amused.”]

Sitting on top of an elephant, I look down over Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meeting at the Mekong river as the sun begins to rise. I’d ridden the gentle giant, called Thong Kam, up the mountain to watch dawn breaking over the Golden Triangle and now she’s taking a well deserved break and snacking on banana trees. Her foot effortless crushes the tree trunk into smithereens and she eats enthusiastically – it’s time for me to dismount and breakfast myself on fresh fruit and coffee the guide has set up for me.

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A Knack for Design

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Eyewear artisan Naoki “Nacky” Nakagawa’s path to success reads like a real life fairytale. As a seventeen year old sales assistant in a spectacles store in Japan he realised there were no styles on offer that he liked so despite not having any design training decided to design them himself.

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Happy Birthday Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels

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Today is the 150th anniversary of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotel group, owner of The Peninsula hotels around the world. The group’s first hotel was the legendary Peninsula Hong Kong opened in 1928. Like most grande dame’s who look fabulous for their age, she’s had a bit of work having been recently refreshed with HK$450 million worth of minimalist luxe decor and impressive technical wizardry.

Each guest room now features sophisticated but reassuringly foolproof technology. Anyone who’s ever been defeated by how to close the blinds/adjust the temperature/turn out that last light in over complicated hotel rooms will rejoice. LED touch screen control panels placed on the wall (in every room if you’re in a suite) allow you to dictate all the aforementioned functions, plus flick on the privacy alert or valet call, as easy as child’s play.

 

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The best champagne for a sparkling Christmas

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Some 30 metres beneath the streets of Reims lies a labyrinth of chalk cellars housing millions of bottles of champagne. These ‘crayeres’ – limestone mines originally dug in the 4th century purely for materials – form a natural habitat for storing the French fizz. The caves’ temperature, humidity and tranquility are perfect for holding the bottles while the wine undergoes the secondary fermentation that will turn it into champagne.

Piper-Heidsieck, the champagne house that landed on the map when founder Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented his wine to Queen Marie-Antoinette, owns 47 of these chalk pits. Unlike some of the neighbouring champagne houses that own chalk cellars, Heidsieck is not open to the public, so the crayeres have a gentle, ethereal quality, enhanced by the ‘cathedral’ style in which the caves have been dug out.

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Return to Splendour

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The Strand hotel in Yangon, Myanmar has now reopened after a six month refurb to return it to its colonial splendour as well as adding modern in room technology.

As part of the revamp the hotel’s bar, formerly a gathering place for the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Noël Coward and Orsen Welles, has been renamed The Sarkies Bar in honour of The strand’s founders, the Sarkies brothers who also created Raffles hotel in Singapore.

To celebrate its reopening, The Strand Yangon is offering a special ‘New Era’ package, offering guests booking a Superior Suite for two nights or more for stays from 15th November 2016 to 30th April 2017 a complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe Suite (subject to availability) along with return airport transfers, High Tea for two, a bottle of wine in room on arrival and a Myanmar degustation menu for two at The Strand Café.

http://www.hotelthestrand.com

Castle in the air

Alila Fort Bishangarh

Alila Fort Bishangarh, Rajasthan

UPDATE: Alila Fort Bishangarh in the Aravalli hills, Rajasthan, will open in February 2017.

http://www.alilahotels.com

Looking for a London Bolthole?

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Look no further: 45 Park Lane has won Best Boutique Hotel at the European Hospitality Awards 2016.

What’s the story behind it?
Not just a glitzy address, 45 Park Lane is the newly opened younger, cooler sibling of The Dorchester hotel. Based next door to the grande dame, it’s more of a boutique affair with just 45 rooms and one restaurant (headed by a celebrity chef) packaged in a more modern design than The Dorch.

What is the design concept?
A homage to Art Deco glamour. Right from the eye-catching entrance, clad in curved metal, and the lobby dominated by a striking, over sized light fitting. A theatrically illuminated staircase leads enticingly to a mezzanine level bar. The furniture throughout is all rounded, glossy black lacquer and gleaming chrome. You’ll feel as though you’ve walked on to a lavish Hollywood set.

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Thanksgiving To Go

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Mandarin Oriental’s Thanksgiving Top Hat Takeouts

If you’re new to Hong Kong you may not know that every year the Mandarin Oriental offers a Thanksgiving feast take out so you can celebrate at home with minimum hassle.

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A Spooktacular Hamper for Halloween

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How spooktacular is this Fortnum & Mason Wicked Wicker hamper? Fortnum’s have reworked their classic picnic hamper in Halloween inspired black and orange and filled it with spooky treats. Chopstix is not usually a fan of All Hallow’s Eve but we’ll make an exception for this.

The Cream of Chinese Couture

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Guo Pei – Singapore Fashion Week 2016

As Guo Pei opened Singapore Fashion Week last night Chopstix looks back at meeting the couturier at Haute Couture Week in Singapore:

Beijing born Guo Pei has been called “the Chanel of China” and credited with inventing Chinese haute couture but the 45 year old, now in her 15th year of designing*, is philosophical about the monikers.

“In China, we sometimes believe in destiny,” she says matter of factly. “Haute couture was right there in my way of working at the beginning but I didn’t know it. I was merely trying to get the best out of my designs. It was not until a year or two later that I was told that what I was doing was called ‘haute couture’ in global fashion.”

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Is A Woman’s Place in the Professional Kitchen?

 

 

Vicky Lau, Veuve Clicquot Asia's Best Female Chef 2015

Vicky Lau, Veuve Clicquot Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015

Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015 is Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room, Hong Kong. Lau becomes the third winner of the award and will be officially presented with it at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony at the Capella Hotel in Singapore on March 9th.

“The aim is to promote and celebrate female talent in an industry that remains very male dominated,” says William Drew, spokesman for the award, sponsored by Veuve Clicquot – a drinks brand associated with a strong, woman boss. “We would love to reach a position where this award becomes unnecessary but I think we are some way off that situation yet, unfortunately.”

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