Born and raised in central New Jersey, Chris Grare had his heart set on food from the very start. The all-American chef’s path to culinary success all started at the renowned Café Boulud, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Big Apple. There, he was sought out by Gray Kunz, who offered to fly him across the world to bring his expertise to the Asian market.
Now executive chef at Lily & Bloom, Grare has lit up the Central dining scene, bringing a fresh take on comfort and elevated dining, and a great atmosphere for cocktails with friends, making Lily & Bloom a go-to for most in the city.
Dinner parties: Casual or formal?
Casual for sure. When I have friends over we do pot luck. With Hong Kong being so ethnically diverse we usually get an awesome mix of Southeast Asian and Western food. There’s usually a few chefs and bartenders invited so we’re well fed and drunk.
What’s your playlist?
I’m a hip hop fan. You’ll definitely find some B.I.G., Jay-Z, The Roots, Mac Miller… after a few drinks these guys will get the crowd moving a bit.
Must-have dinner party dishes?
We’ll throw out some awesome cured meats and stinky cheese to start. I also like heartier dishes at a dinner party. Things like beef stew, a great homemade fish curry, or a fat roast if you have a big enough oven.
Your top three Asian dishes?
Anything with char siu, momos in Lan Kwai Fong, and spicy miso ramen.
Your favourite Hong Kong restaurants?
This is one of the hardest and most frequently asked questions. Yardbird, Mercato, Dim Sum Square, Chachawan, Dumpling House in SYP, Little Bao, Mott 32, Amber, Nagahama No. 1 Ramen… oh yeah, Lily and Bloom!
What’s the secret to hosting the perfect dinner party?
I think the secret is in who you invite. Everyone has a few friends that are a bit crazy, and these are the ones that make the party fun.
Do you have any American traditions for dinner parties?
America is a fairly young country made up of immigrants from all over the world. I think party traditions really depend on your own background. I don’t think it happens as much any more, and it’s a shame, but gathering the entire family around a huge table without TV or distractions and just enjoying each other’s company – this is what I remember about Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up.
If you could invite any three people to your dinner party, who would they be?
Dave Chappelle: I got to hang out with him once while I was working at Café Gray Deluxe, hands down the hardest I’ve laughed in my life. Bill Murray: the legend, who I’ve heard is known for crashing normal people’s parties. Daniel Humm: I have such a respect for what he has been doing for the restaurant world recently, and the world of hospitality in general.