The Business Times
Food & Drink

Building an icon of modern Chinese cuisine

Peach Blossoms’ Edward Chong is the poster boy of a new generation of forward-thinking Asian chefs

Published Thu, Sep 15, 2022 · 11:23 PM

TO diners at Peach Blossoms, the flagship Chinese restaurant of PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore, a spring roll is not just a spring roll. In the hands of Executive Chinese Chef Edward Chong, it becomes a visually delightful Deep-Fried Cigar Roll filled with Black Truffle, Foie Gras, Crab and Prawn. Nor is the familiar char siew merely just a glistening strip of caramelised roast pork. Instead, it is reinterpreted as Applewood-Smoked Iberico Pork Char Siew – given a delicate crust of torched sugar to emulate the distinctive crisp skin of Cantonese-style roast duck. Welcome to a different realm of Chinese cuisine, where Chong has perfected his unique style of cooking that is authentically Chinese yet distinctly modern in spirit.

Peach Blossoms' Exceutive Chinese Chef Edward Chong. PHOTO: PARKROYAL COLLECTION MARINA BAY

From troublemaker to chef

Chong has indeed come a long way from his days as a self-professed delinquent youth from Malaysia who was sent to Singapore at the age of 19 to join his uncle at a Chinese restaurant to learn a trade. As one who couldn’t even fry an egg, he was ridiculed by his seniors to the point that the teenage gangster who never cried ended up “hiding in the freezer, weeping”.

But he persevered, and soon attracted the attention of industry stalwarts Sam Leong and Yong Bing Ngen. Within 2 years of working with Leong, Chong was promoted to wok chef – a role that normally takes 5 years to earn. He would continue to rise in his career, from the now-defunct Pine Court in Mandarin Orchard, to Leong’s Forest at Resorts World Sentosa, and Yong’s Majestic as Master Chinese Chef. But he found his true calling in 2017 when he was talent-spotted to lead Peach Blossoms, and tasked to give it a new direction and fresh appeal. 

The contemporary interiors of Peach Blossoms. PHOTO: PARKROYAL COLLECTION MARINA BAY

Crafting his own style

Rising to the challenge, he banked on what his mentors had taught him. “From Chef Leong I learned the art of modern presentation; from Chef Yong, the art of building a team. But I had to find my own style,” says Chong. For inspiration, he immersed himself in the Hong Kong and Macau food scene, studying trends and visiting restaurants serving progressive Asian cuisine, be it Japanese, Korean or Indian. 

Applewood-smoked Iberico pork char siew PHOTO: PARKROYAL COLLECTION MARINA BAY

Before long, he was crafting his own narrative, and his culinary story soon won over critics and guests alike. Awards came soon after, namely Asian Masters 2019 (Rising Chef of the Year Award), as well as World Gourmet Awards 2019 and 2022 (Asian Cuisine Chef of the Year Award). 

But it’s not a fame game for him. While he first set out to prove himself, “now I work to show a different side of fine Chinese cuisine, especially to a younger crowd who think of it as old-fashioned,” he emphasises. “I want to showcase its finesse and versatility.”

A NEWSLETTER FOR YOU
Friday, 2 pm
Lifestyle

Our picks of the latest dining, travel and leisure options to treat yourself.

Deep-fried Cigar Roll filled with Black Truffle, Foie Gras and Prawn PHOTO: PARKROYAL COLLECTION MARINA BAY

Progressive techniques aside, the foundation of his cooking remains high-quality ingredients, from the most luxurious to the humblest. “Our dishes emphasise the natural flavours of the ingredients we use, so whether it’s a simple vegetable or the best seasonal fish – everything has to be prime and perfect.”

This meticulous approach extends to making things from scratch such as “bottarga” made from painstakingly cured and pressed crab roe, which is shaved over Stewed Mung Bean Noodles with Lobster for a rich umami boost. 

He credits his mother for his talent at thinking out of the box. “My mum is a very resourceful and inventive home cook, who could turn excess ingredients into something unexpected and delicious – such as extra yong tau foo filling in a dish reminiscent of sweet and sour pork.”

A sense of whimsy, coupled with his technical prowess, sees him wow regulars who also bring their clients, friends and family to share the experience. “What makes me happy is when these new customers become regulars as well,” he says. “My goal is to build Peach Blossoms into a new icon – one that comes to mind whenever one thinks of fine Chinese, and one that represents a new generation of progressive fine Chinese cuisine.” 

KEYWORDS IN THIS ARTICLE

READ MORE

BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to  t.me/BizTimes

BT Luxe

SUPPORT SOUTH-EAST ASIA'S LEADING FINANCIAL DAILY

Get the latest coverage and full access to all BT premium content.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Browse corporate subscription here