Mother’s Day 2022: Hong Kong F&B Mums on Work-Life Balance, Favourite Childhood Dishes, and More

Tatler Asia

7 May 2022

In celebration of Mother’s Day, we caught up with some of Hong Kong’s top F&B female professionals to discuss the importance of finding a balance between work and family, what they love most about their career, and their favourite childhood food memories

Being a working mum is difficult in any profession. But the F&B industry’s working weekends and long working hours can make it particularly challenging for those with small children.

In honour of Mother’s Day, we asked some inspiring women in Hong Kong’s dining scene to share their secrets to balancing work and family life, their favourite childhood food memories, along with some of their best quotes about motherhood.

Chan Kai Ying, head chef of Chilli Fagara and her daughter Tracy Wong

“Working closely with the same person every day can be challenging, in particular if my mother and I have different opinions on a topic!” says Tracy Wong, daughter of Chan Kai Ying, head chef of Chilli Fagara.

“But over the years, we have learnt that different points of view actually make us more open-minded—even more creative. Working with my mother has brought us closer together. Every day, we learn, eat, cook, explore, try and fail together; we encourage each other and find solutions as a team and push boundaries. She inspires me with her everlasting energy, unlimited culinary knowledge and devotion, mastering the art of Sichuan cuisine and taking it to a whole new level.”

The favourite recipe I learned from my mother...

Tracy: The stir-fried egg was one of the first dishes my mother taught me how to cook when I was still a little girl. Until now, it’s my favourite comfort food that I enjoy the most when it’s freshly prepared by my mum. It’s also one of the first recipes passed down to her from her father in Chong Qing and has ever since been her favourite dish, too!

Chef Chan: Although she is grown up now, I love cooking Tracy’s favourite meals the most. One such dish is silky scrambled eggs, stir-fried with tangy-sweet garlic and house-made chilli sauce, and served with sweet, white buns. The nostalgia this simple yet comforting dish evokes is so meaningful to me that it features on the menu at Chilli Fagara as one of our signature dishes.

My favourite food memories with my mother...

Tracy: Coming from a family of restaurateurs in Chong Qing, preparing classic Sichuan dishes, like chilli-infused dumplings, has always been an essential part of our Chinese culture, as you can find them at almost every homemade family meal.

When I was a child, I would wrap and cook them with my mother and grandmother at home—this is one of my fondest childhood memories with them. As a successful chef preparing upscale Sichuan cuisine for her whole life, she was the one who taught me how to prepare and fold the thin wrappers and fill them with our favourite ingredients. Our signature chilli dumplings truly represent the taste and feeling of home for us.

How I spend holidays with my family...

Chef Chan: My daughter Tracy and I love going to the wet market together to select the freshest seasonal ingredients and source new flavour inspirations. And when we’re not in the restaurant, we play mahjong at home or create new recipes together over a good bottle of wine—this is how we balance restaurant business and family life.

Tracy: We also love travelling together, be it to Canada to visit family and friends or back to Chong Qing to visit our relatives and trusted suppliers, or to look for new suppliers with the best and most authentic high-quality products which we can then bring to Chilli Fagara to offer our diners an elevated Sichuan dining experience.