Style Folio: Restaurateur Bonnae Gokson on Cakes and Fashion

The entrepreneur, award-winning author, restaurateur and style maven, Bonnae Gokson, talks to Gennady Oreshkin about cake artistry, colours of life and her undying love for Uniqlo

If back in the ’90s, someone spoke about the unwavering connection fashion might have to food, they’d be laughed from the front row of a Gianfranco Ferré Dior show. Anybody but Bonnae Gokson – or Ms B, if you will – whose discerning taste and eye for beauty took her from Joyce to Chanel to opening the monument of haute cuisine and confectionary, Sevva.

How did your love affair with cakes begin?

Let’s say a love affair with food. Growing up in a home where varieties of cuisines and tastes were introduced to me, I’ve always been a little gourmand. Whenever my family gave me food, I had that little glint in my eyes. It’s a love affair with life and tastes ever since [I was] a tiny baby. I’ve always loved good creams – real cream and milk. Years ago, when I started a very successful Joyce cafe for my sister’s group, Joyce, at 9 Queen’s Road, it was a large place designed by Peter Marino. And at the tip there was a tiny cafe. I started over there. I brought in the Caramel Crunch cake, famous around Hong Kong these days. It’s still the same chef who does all the caramel flipping.

What makes the perfect cake?

When people nowadays say perfect cakes, it all goes into the phone. I think it’s so superficial, because sometimes they can taste awful. For me, a perfect cake is a balance. It’s the ingredients, it’s about density, it has to have different textures. You know, you put meringue crunch into a chiffon cake, for example. And then the moisture and not being too sweet. And after that, the harmony in the mouth, isn’t it?

What do you think of vegan cakes?

We’ve had a lot of different vegan cakes before and a lot of requests. I grew up in a society that just enjoyed food, and it’s not that I’m going out to do some bizarre things. I take food as food, not as a trend. Right now, it’s a trend. People talk about it too much – “I’m dairy-free. I’m gluten-free and I have to be vegan” – there are a lot of these issues. I like to stick to what we’re good at. People can do their own stuff – I welcome all – the more to learn.

What, to you, is beauty?

Beauty is shape; in fashion we call it a silhouette. It’s about colour combinations or one colour, the form that pleases the aesthetic senses. That’s why they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I walk around, there are a lot of beautiful things. I go to marketplaces, there’s a spurt of colour everywhere. If I asked you, what is life to you? You wouldn’t tell me life is grey and black, would you?

What’s the biggest fashion faux pas you’ve seen?

Those tights, the yoga pants that show unattractive parts. Especially on women. I look at aesthetics as bodies as well. And, sometimes, if the butt is a bit too flat, it’s just unappetising. Seeing such deep Vs going right down to the belly button; Brazilian butt lifts–I’veseenalotof those–isabittoo much. I’ve got to say, guys are dressing up quite nice. I appreciate that.

Any style advice?

Let me tell you, I love Uniqlo. I could be the spokeswoman for Skechers and Uniqlo. I don’t believe in a strong, famous brand or couture all the way down. You have to mix and match. That’s the beauty of style.

Gennady Oreshkin

Journalist, writer, reader, talker and, sometimes, eater, Gennady is the only fashion writer with a degree in Chemical Engineering in his building – a title that he wears with, perhaps, too much pride. If he is not tweeting about HBO’s newest prestige drama, he can be spotted helping his friends with a piece of fashion advice by ignoring their messages. Gennady’s aspirations include being the most glamorous person on the bus at any given time and being called “ditzy and vapid” on a straight man’s podcast.

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