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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Invited: Dinner With Chef Chen Hong @ Golden Thai Seafood Village, Penang.

Credits to the TVBS cooking show 《阿鸿上菜》, Chef Chen Hong (陈鸿) experience a meteoric rise to fame and since then, he has been branded as a lady killer due to his attractive facial features and his sweet nature.
Now, he is now ready to take another big leap in his career by accepting Penang government's invitation which establishes him as food ambassador of Penang.
There is a huge possibility of running into him on the street because filming of 《食在槟城》and 50 wonders of Penang food take place at several areas.
Chen Hong is exploring Penang and searching for all kinds of local delicacies which are on the verge of being passed into oblivion.
According to him, this food show not only will be aired in China but BBC television also expresses interest in it.
Besides, he capitalises on this trip, exploiting local foodstuff for his new culinary books, 《匠心独具》(in corporation with Taiwan) and《鴻食代》in which he throws down gauntlet to the famous guide book, Michelin Guide.
As a result of overwhelming enthusiasm displayed by Penangites, Chef Chen Hong decided to prolong his stay until he completes the two books.

Foodtok is offered a role in such large local project and is granted the permission to organize a few events in which vouchers and goodie bags are distributed out as prizes.
All the prizes are courtesy of Food Digest.
One of the event was particularly easy and the award was unbelievably awesome, i.e. , you got to dine with Chen Hong at the same table.
I was extremely lucky cause i got called up for the dinner, a very big thank you to Foodtok here.
Of course, my partner was my other half and we arrived at the classy Golden Thai Seafood Village, Batu Ferringhi at 8pm.
'Good things come to those who wait', we wandered around the restaurant while waiting for the superstar's arrival.

The exterior and the restaurant performers standing by to welcome Chef Chen Hong.

A community of sea creatures could be found here.

The elegant dining area with sea view.

Approaching 9pm, Chef Chen Hong finally arrived along with Chef Park, Chef Billy, his staff members, reporters, bloggers and others including Foodtok boss.
Korean Chef Park is the chef consultant of Food Digest and handsome Chef Billy is actually the first runner-up of the local contest, 8TV《美食型男》.
Chen Hong's pants and shoes are considered as rare sights in Penang but they looked pretty on him.
After a little make up, he had a photo shoot section with everyone including tourists, restaurant crew and the winners.
Thanks to Criz for snapping some pics of my other half and i.

The restaurant performers lined themselves up at the entrance while the cameras were ready and action!
Chen Hong and gang walked towards the entrance and were greeted with a brief performance of local indigenous martial arts which successfully entertained them.

The winners were seated at the same table with Chen Hong, so did i.
It was a real honour to have dinner together with him, to have such close contact with him and to share his food experience from all parts of the Earth.
He is so charismatic and is gifted with a sweet gentle voice that will get everyone intoxicated with his words.
You can see that he talked with the reporters and winners non-stoply while enjoying traditional dance performance.
Other than that, we got to spectacle a collection of commercials he involved in.
These advertisements were not, are not and will not be found here.

Chef Park and Chef Billy both volunteered themselves and went up on the stage to play a role in the dance performance.
I guess they had a great time as they never stopped smiling on the stage.
Furthermore, Chef Park was offered a chance to get his hands on a blowgun and he successfully inflated a balloon on his second attempt.

All winners had the opportunity to take pictures with Foodtok boss and Chef Chen Hong.

The food there tasted so-so and the odd one out was the Green Sambal Steamed Fish.

In such once in a lifetime night, bloggers including my other half and i were granted the permission to interview, to have a chat with Chef Chen Hong.
We were tickled pink, we could not have been more thrilled.
This interview section came up all of a sudden and that is why i did not bring along any notepad and recorder.
However, it turned out that my love has done a pretty good job in remembering Chen Hong's narrated stories.
Thousands of thank you to Michelle as she even summarised it into a passage in Chinese as a referrence for me, love you!
Hence, i will just do a simple translation.

His words which were reverberating in the air and in our ears left us remembering them vividly.
At the beginning of the interview, Chen Hong emphasised that he likes to be known as neither a chef nor a celebrity.
At this moment, his one and only goal is: 'i do what i like, i like what i do'.

Speaking of Penang island, the local human interest left Chen Hong praising unceasingly and he insisted that such human interest is nowhere to be found except here.
The Pearl of Orient is legendary for its extremely cheap food.
Other than Penang, i can't find such yummy Char Kway Teow for only a bargain of three bucks, can you?
To Chen Hong, Penang is not a three-dollars-worth metropolitan but a Shangri-la which is made of enthusiastic people, good food and historical sites.
He disdains the act of valuating a food just by yummy or yucky as he felt that such measure is very abstract and subjective.
What he really enjoys during tasting a food is the preparation process and the
passion of the chef.
He reveals that he has savoured delicacies which are only available in Penang from the aspect of tastiness as well as from an interesting, entertainting dimension.
You know what?
Chen Hong labeleld the Siam Road Char Kway Teow uncle as Beethoven of Kway Teow field as the scene where he is stir frying Kway Teow certainly looks like when Beethoven is conducting music.

Well, he also compared the movement of Ah Guan who sells apom at Burma Road with that of a mime artist.

In addition, Chen Hong bowed down to the baking passion and perseverance of Jenny's Cake House boss in producing authentic cheesecake masterpieces and this is the reason why she is still unmarried now.
Despite all these pleasant expreiences, he sighed for the sake of Penang food as the young generation is not willing to inherit these stalls, shops.
That will consequence in endangering and extinction of Penang most valuable asset: local hawker food.
He advised these hawkers to pass their recipes and skills to the next generation, neglecting blood relations and pirority should be given to those who possess great potential.
Incidentally, Chen Hong recalled that when he was in his salad days, it was the elevations from his seniors, 张小燕 and 蔡澜 that brought him what he has achieved today.
He quickly showed his gratitude by seeking a perfect successor for his title,《美食型男》.

During his stay in Penang, he tasted all sorts of local food and explored the place wholeheartedly.
Chef Chen Hong agreed that Penang has a very unique element which does not exist in other countries including his motherland, Taiwan.
That paticular element is a mix of different traditions and customs from all over the world.
In Penang, he saw the features of Paris, China, Taiwan etc in the way that makes he feel that Penang is in a class of its own.
Chen Hong even made fun of the optimisticity and enthusiams of Penangites by saying that they developed such positive attributes as they could intoxicate themselves with the sea wave echo and seawind.

Furthermore, he admitted that he admires Heng Ee High School chorus and he hopes he would get to sing out loud a few classic songs like ‘城里的月光’,‘何日君再来’ etc along with the team.
Naturally, Chen Hong who possesses an impressive soft voice sang a part of the song, ‘何日君再来’.

I questioned him about the most unforgettable thing he has experienced here and after a deep thinking, 'aunty' he answered.
The local aunties displayed a great degree of enthusiasm when Chen Hong was visiting Penang market place.
There was an elderly couple who wanted to give him designer watch and jade ring as presents.
Some of the aunties even misrecognised him as 王力宏.
These incidents made him aware that he was once famous here and he still is.
With such huge support from the aunty gang, Chen Hong realised that Penang does not rely on him but the other way round.
He enjoyed searching for celebrity look-alikes here and he also nicknamed an Indian who speaks Hokkien 'Black Hokkien Lang'.

Chen Hong has appeared in an abundance of advertisements, TV dramas and now, he is back to where he started, food show host.
With accordance to him, he is well-prepared to lead both Penang food and history to a better height of popurality, Asian and European countries are not under the radar.
Beyond that, Chen Hong also expresses that he wishes he could make a visit to Penang once a month or at least once a season.
Apparently, it is indicating that he is in love with Penang life.

After this three hours lasting close interaction with Chef Chen Hong, i could not agree more that phrases like amiable, affable, easy-going and unaffected fit him best.
He is more mature if compared to his 《阿鸿上菜》time.
I guess he is now more incisive and looking into matter in greater detail after recovering from illness.
At last, he was so friendly as he requested all of the winners and staffs involved to have a photo taken together and he never put on airs like the other celebrities do.
That is the key to why and how Chen Hong left a deep impression on the populace
He is irreplaceable.

Chinese version - written by Michelle Lau.

在缘分和机缘巧合的情况下,我深感荣幸可以携伴参与国际美食家陈鸿先生于Golden Thai Seafood Village Penang进行的交流会。

对此我对jacgy先生致上万分的感谢。因为他的邀请,让我有机会和这位美食达人同桌共进晚餐,与他近距离接触,聆听他的美食之旅及有幸欣赏他的私人珍藏— 一系列他拍过的广告,美食节目和新闻报导。这一系列的私人珍藏短片让我恍如刘姥姥进大庄园,打开眼界并对陈鸿有了更深一层的认识。



谈到槟城,陈鸿表示他非常喜爱槟城人的在地人情味。他 指出,这种人情味是在他处都找寻不到的。槟城对很多人来说是个有很多便宜美食的小城市因为只要马币三块二就能买到一碟美味的炒粿条或一碗粿条汤。但是,对 他来说这里不只是个RM3.20的城市,这里是个天堂。因为这里有的不仅仅是美食的国度,这里有的更是很多故事和历史的真实写照


在槟城不只品尝到他国都没有的美食,更是在这些小贩身上看到了很多有趣的一面。他把炒粿条的老先生形容为贝多芬,炒粿条的那一幕形容成他在指挥音乐。他也把卖apom的老先生的动作形容成默剧家在表演默剧。他也呼吁槟城人在享受美食的同时也要用心留意一下这些我们在日常生活中没有发现的有趣小细节他 也十分佩服jenny's cake house老板娘废寝忘食地研制最好吃的cheesecake而到现在还云英未嫁的精神。但 是让他感叹的是这些小贩大多数都后继无人。他们的子女都不愿意继承他们的摊位,让这些槟城的‘宝’都快灭绝了。他也呼吁这些小贩应该设法把这些烹调秘诀及 技巧传承给下一代。就算不是自家子弟也好,只要对方有潜质就应该提拔他。对此他忆起当初自己还是个入世未深的黄毛小子时,因为获得台湾资深艺人张小燕和著 名美食家蔡澜的提拔才有今天的他,所以他也饮水思源,延续小燕姐和蔡澜的精神,用心为自己寻找美食型男的接班人。因此他希望这些小贩们也应该努力寻找接班 人。

陈鸿在槟城的这几天,他用心品尝美食,但他更用心地去看槟城。他发现槟城有很多国家包括他的祖国台湾都没有的东西,就是槟城是个结合了多国的风情的城 市。


当我问及陈鸿在槟城最难忘和印象深刻的是什么时,他并不是马马虎虎的回答我而是经过一番‘深思熟虑’才回答我是槟城的aunty们。他说槟城的aunty们很热情,让他体会到原来他曾经真正在这里红过。 她们的热情让他由里至外地感受到原来一直是他在依偎槟城而不是槟城依偎他。

陈鸿拍过无数支广告,拍过电视剧,但是就是因为这份热情让他领悟到他应该回到原 点,当一个美食家,把槟城的美食与故事发扬光大,让亚洲人,‘红毛人’都能认识到槟城美食和深深体会到这些美食后面的故事所带来的共鸣。他也表示希望以后 可以每个月都到槟城来。如果不能也至少一年四季每个季节都来一次。由此可见他真的是爱上槟城的内在美了。



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