This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.MORE INFO
Menu Close

‘For me, eating at a restaurant is not just about enjoyment, but also about taking inspiration from all the dishes,’ says self-taught chef-about-town Christopher Ho. ‘It’s always an ongoing process of learning and inspiration. It’s not necessarily something bound by my own kitchen.’

In-demand home chef Christopher Ho finds inspiration everywhere

For our Sunday lunch, Christopher and I are feasting on a deluxe assortment of sushi, Saikyo-style Grilled Black Cod and the Chef’s Selected Sashimi Salad at Shiro in Pacific Place where we discuss food, what his days are like and growing up in a family where creativity is nurtured and thrives. Christopher’s grandmother is Joyce Ma, who founded JOYCE boutiques, his great-aunt is Bonnae Gokson, owner and visionary behind C’est La B Cakes, Sevva and Ms B’s Cakery, and his sister is Nicola Tessa Ho, a cocktail maker who Christopher refers to affectionately as ‘the alcoholic’. Working full-time in a hospital management job by day, as a sought-after home chef Christopher devotes much of his free time to learning more about cooking and developing and testing new recipes.

The Chef’s Selected Sashimi Salad takes centre stage

As we start to enjoy the freshly prepared sushi and sashimi salad, Christopher talks about his ‘self-time’ after work and on the weekends which usually involves dinners out for inspiration, exercise, and time to relax and create.

Christopher is not professionally trained as a chef but began cooking when he was studying in the UK, doing most of his learning from YouTube videos. ‘I’ve been very blessed to be able to go to different parts of the world. I studied in the UK and being based in Hong Kong, I’ve visited many Asian countries as well. I’ve been very privileged to go to all these places and be able to try many different restaurants,’ he says. His love of food developed from a young age through enjoyment of many dining experiences, which are reflected in his own work. ‘It’s where my inspiration in my cooking comes from — all these different places.’

If you’re wondering what type of food Christopher cooks, his short answer would be ‘Western’, but he’s not bound by any single cuisine. ‘I take inspiration from everything that’s around me,’ he explains. For example, while he cooks Western food, Christopher also says that his food tastes Chinese. This stems from the roots of his personal cooking journey — he took what he knew how to cook and translated that into what he liked to eat. ‘That’s why my food tastes Chinese, but is Western in its execution.’

Christopher has served as a guest chef at pop-ups around Hong Kong, and at a recent one at Fireside, he noted that food prepared by executive chef Miguel Gallo is not bound by a region. Chef Gallo considers himself to be a non-Spanish, Spanish chef. ‘Miguel doesn’t consider himself a Spanish chef and I don’t consider myself a Chinese chef, but then the ingredients we use and the techniques we use are very much inspired by both cuisines.’ For the pop-up, the two experimented with different kinds of fish and in the end chose star snapper, which is a classic ingredient in Chinese food. They also made use of Sichuan peppercorns, which of course are not used in Spanish cooking. For Christopher, adaptability, whether it’s the utensils or the ingredients on hand, is crucial when working in different kitchens.

Christopher indulges in an assortment of sushi and Saikyo-style Grilled Black Cod

Christopher studied nutrition after he started cooking, which was helpful when he was tasked with setting up the F&B operations for a hospital in Shenzhen. The work involved creating menus for new mothers in the obstetrics ward, and the recipes he helped to create had to be nutritionally balanced and tasty without using flavours that were too intense. Christopher chose to amplify flavours using precise cooking techniques rather than adding seasoning.

As we eat our Japanese meal, Christopher mentions that he’s also studying Japanese, which is his second-favourite cuisine after Chinese. ‘I first learnt how to cook professionally through Eric Räty at Arbor. He’s Finnish, but he takes a lot of inspiration from Japanese food,’ he says, noting that he was inspired by how Chef Räty takes foreign concepts and does them in his own style.

When conceiving a dish, Christopher’s focus is not just on how a dish will be prepared, but on the ingredients and about how best to express them. More recently, he’s placed more emphasis on sourcing ingredients locally and reducing the carbon footprint of his food. As he cooks, he thinks more about the final dish, what to pair it with and how to present it. ‘Given my Chinese-inspired Western cooking, I spend some time on how best to play around with the final dish,’ he adds.

Shiro Sushi’s recently reopened space in Pacific Place

F&B is not an easy industry to break into, but says Christopher, if you’re not afraid to take a leap of faith, ‘It’s very rewarding, and I’ve been very lucky to have made that jump.’