Interview – Chris Kwok, Canadian National Selection Winner

Interview – Chris Kwok, Canadian National Selection Winner

“Being able to filter out ideas and opinions that are not suitable and pick the appropriate ones is crucial. This applies in my life as a chef and as many other roles.”

HOW WILL YOU BE PREPARING FOR THE FINAL?

 “To prepare for the final I will be looking at more innovative ways to present the theme through my creations.  At this stage I only have some rough ideas, nothing is finalized yet.”

ARE THERE SPECIFIC THINGS YOU’VE LEARNED FROM THIS COMPETITION?

“One thing I learned from the competition is the importance of making good choices. During the entire preparation process I would get numerous ideas from different things and receive different opinions from various people. Being able to filter out the unsuitable ones and pick the appropriate ones is crucial. This applies to my life as a chef and as many other roles.”

“The biggest change since winning the Canadian National Selection is actually caused by the competition theme. As a chef, I now think more about applying recycling concepts on packaging, waste reduction, ... I am really working towards Futropolis!”

HOW HAS WINNING THE CANADIAN NATIONAL SELECTION AFFECT YOUR LIFE?

 “Winning the Canadian national selection of the World Chocolate Masters has affected me in several ways.  For example: I look more like a professional chef now because I have gained so much weight!  As people say in the industry: “Never trust a skinny chef!”.  Another change is that I feel more responsible to pass on my knowledge in chocolate to Canadian consumers and younger generation chefs to help build a stronger chocolate industry and market in Canada.”

“The biggest change is actually caused by the competition theme. As a chef, I now think more about applying recycling concepts on packaging, waste reduction, … I am really working towards Futropolis!” 

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
“To create, I usually try to stay relaxed and pay attention to my surroundings for inspiration. Ideas that come to mind at first could be vivid or vague, but can turn into something solid at a later stage. I go to many different restaurants, local or abroad, to experience other people's creations.”

WHAT DOES THIS COMPETITION MEAN TO YOU AS A CHEF?
“To me, this competition is a platform for the industry and chefs around the world to connect with each other. Every time I create a new dessert or showpiece, I would share it with local chefs and friends around the world. After digesting various comments, I might make changes, but always in my own way and style! This process continues over and over. I ended up making a lot of new friends through this competition!”

“I think traditional tastes and cooking techniques can no longer satisfy consumers nowadays. As chefs, we not only have to stay on top of trends, we need to create them.”

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN THIS COMPETITION?

 “Since the World Chocolate Masters final will be held in Paris, the biggest challenge would be to find resources locally. For example: some ingredients and tools like the cream charger cannot be brought on the flight! Therefore, I will have to buy them in Paris. And local maps are not as easy to follow. When you ask people on the street, they all say: “Sorry, I'm a traveller too!”

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? ARE THERE SPECIFIC CACAO BARRY PRODUCTS YOU PREFER?

“My style is based on my personality, work and life experience. At the moment, I would describe it as fun and twisty.”
“There is quite a huge list of Cacao Barry chocolates that I adore. They carry a wide range of unique characters. Normally, I would create a flavor profile for the assignment or theme first, then use the appropriate couverture that perfectly matches or contrasts in a beautiful way. That’s what creates a true "one plus one equals three" factor. It requires creativity, knowledge of chocolate and ingredients. And a lot of trial and error of course.” 

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT FUTURE TRENDS IN CHOCOLATE AND PASTRY?

“I think traditional tastes and cooking techniques can no longer satisfy consumers nowadays. They are very adventurous in trying new tastes, ingredients and combinations. As chefs, we not only have to stay on top of these trends, we need to create them. That’s how we can deal with change and keep our customer happy.”

WHAT DOES FUTROPOLIS MEAN TO YOU?

“To me, Futropolis is a concept that combines advanced technology with elements. People living in this megacities value convenience, efficiency, waste reduction and environmental health. At the same time, they remain adventurous and hold high standards for food taste, texture, and look.”