In Prestige Online’s “Getting to Know” series, we ask our favourite personalities what they’re like outside of work — and get a little more personal.
She’s the chef and owner of one Michelin-starred Tate Dining Room, but who is Vicky Lau beyond being one of Asia’s best female chefs? We took the chance to find out more about the ex-graphic designer and found out what she gets up to when the chef whites come off.
What’s a normal weekend like for you?
Well, weekends for me are actually only Sundays as I work on Saturdays. Tate [Dining Room] is closed on Sunday, so I have one day off and I always spend it with my daughter. She’s two and a half years old. We do a lot of family activities on that day and explore new places with her. Last week, we went to the library. That’s the kind of thing we do together. This weekend, maybe we’ll go swimming. I like hanging out in Repulse Bay and just generally in the midst of nature. I think kids also enjoy that, too.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of [American three-piece band] Khruangbin. It’s hard to define this type of music, but I guess it’s alternative. I like alternative music, trip-hop, jazz and easy listening music. Bonobo is one of my favourites too.
I’ll listen to music in the car but also in the kitchen — especially if I’m doing something repetitive because I need to encourage myself to keep going! If you need to make the same thing [for a dish] 200 times, you really need music to get you through it!
When you’re not in the kitchen, what else are you up to?
I do Thai boxing at the gym… I also meditate, which I try to do everyday for 20 minutes before I sleep. I do it in silence mostly, but if your thoughts are a little crowded you can use music or do some guided meditation. For me, I need that peace of mind. I’m actually a quiet person, but when you’re in this industry you need to face a lot of people, handle them and get along with them, so I need that quiet time to reset. Meditation really helps you to dump any negative feelings and be more neutral.
What are you most likely to order at a bar?
I enjoy a lot of cocktails, but especially Negronis. I love the classic version but I will also explore different kinds of cocktails. It’s actually really tough to get flavour in liquid, but a lot of people do such a good job, so it’s worth exploring. The Old Man makes a great Negroni!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I love eating in bed. I do that a lot actually. Especially at the end of a work night when I’m tired and feel like falling asleep, but I really want to eat. During service I don’t have much of an appetite, so I’ll just have something in bed instead. It’s the best when I’m staying at a hotel, and I can just order some room service and eat a club sandwich in my pyjamas, in bed!
Have you ever met any chefs that turned you into a fan-girl?
So many! Thomas Keller is definitely at the top of my list. [Joël] Robuchon and Pierre Hermé, too. They’re all big names but they’re so humble. I think there are a lot of people that are at that high level, but are more normal than you think.
Who was the last person you called?
My daughter. We FaceTime and she sings to me — she loves singing. She makes up her own songs even. I took her to a Mozart concert once and she came out telling me she wanted to learn the violin.
What was the last meal you had?
Recently, we went to Sing Gor [a popular two-table-only private kitchen in Macau]. It was really delicious. They cook up that classic Cantonese flavour which is so tough to find these days. All that wok hei [smoky, charred flavour you get from using a wok]. He made this soup with pork belly, intestines and seaweed — it had so much flavour and was a very dark soup, so you could tell it had so much work put into it. You can’t find this kind of traditional Cantonese flavour anymore and I crave for it. A lot of my childhood memories are of food with this classic flavour.