Richard Ekkebus, Culinary Director and executive chef of Amber restaurant and The Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel (Hong Kong)
Richard Ekkebus. Photo: courtesy of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
Richard Ekkebus, the Dutch born chef and culinary director living in Hong Kong is the name behind the acclaimed two Michelin starred restaurant Amber (24th place at World’s 50 best restaurants in 2014). He learned his cooking in France from the great chefs like Alain Passard and Pierre Gagnaire but has developed his own imaginative style enriched with his globetrotting experiences and his love for discovery of the best ingredients which he inherited from his grandparents. When I asked him for this quick interview, he immediately accepted. He said he is a big chocolover!
What does chocolate mean for you?
Chocolate is a total comforting food for me. I have been a fan of it since young age, however since then the sugar content of my favorite chocolate choices has been considerably reduced. I still remember the time when my parents brought these huge and thick dark chocolate bars with whole roasted hazelnuts when they were back from travelling. I finished them in no time to the point of being sick. Those are my fondest sweet memories! I am a total chocaholic!
Why have you chosen this dessert? What is in your opinion so special about it?
The chocolate soufflé has been on my menu since my arrival to Hong Kong and regarded by my guests as Hong Kong’s best soufflé.
85% chocolate soufflé with cacao sorbet. Photo: courtesy of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
Please describe your dessert – tell us please about the flavors, temperatures and textures.
On one side, a light structure is designed not only to hold its dark chocolate centre that runs like lava, but also the topping that contains over 80% of dark chocolate. On the other side, a mineral water based cacao sorbet with refreshing function is placed on a cacao nib crumble for more cacao goodness.
What has inspired you to create it? How was it born?
I have worked for Alain Passard and operated his pastry kitchen where I learned the best soufflé making as a long lasting soufflé lover. Hong Kong people love soufflés especially ours, which is still Amber’s milestone-like best selling dessert.
Does it require any special technique?
Practice makes it perfect. I repeatedly do it over and over from scratch.
What was the special challenge with it?
To find the right balance in terms of sweetness. With a target to please all guests including local ones who are not fond of sweet desserts, although a soufflé needs sugar to whip the egg whites and to coat the soufflé moulds, we reduced the sugar by 60% while still creating a very airy and light structure.
Any final message for our readers?
Chocolate is the best choice to finish a perfect meal in Amber. Our signature tasting menu offers bitter chocolate as a final dessert, which is a perfect transition to a cup of perfectly brewed coffee.