Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Master Chef Mak Kip Fu. A Serial Michelin Star Awarded Chef 麥協富師傅

Master-Chef-Mak-Kip-Fu

Caught up with Chef Mak Kip Fu 麥協富 during a brief free moment just after his busy lunch shift at his newly opened Mak Hong Kee Kitchen at Keong Saik Road in Singapore.

Mak-Hong-Kee-Kitchen

It is just fortuitous that Master Chef Mak opened Mak Hong Kee (HK) Kitchen here in Singapore. Living in Hong Kong, Chef Mak and wife were looking after their grandchildren. When his daughter's family relocated to Singapore on job assignment, the doting grandparents decided to move near their daughter and her little ones. 

Parents never retire.

When one of Chef Mak's legion of fans turned friend learnt that he has moved to Singapore, he offered him this space at Keong Saik Road "to do something instead of staying at home". So, now we can enjoy cuisine by a Master Chef highly sought after by prestigious, exclusive restaurants at an informal eatery at affordable prices. 

In Chinese, it's called 我们有口福了 - we have blessings of good food.

Ocean-Terminal-Hong-Kong
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Chef Mak's illustrious career started in 1964 at a tender age of 13, right at the bottom of the ladder - as an odd job helper at a dim sum restaurant. In those difficult lean years in Hong Kong, this was a route many youngsters took to earn their 3 meals and hopefully learn a skill 學一門謀生的手藝.

In 1967, Chef Mak joined 海天酒楼 in Hong Kong's 海運大廈 Ocean Terminal which opened in 1966. The Ocean Terminal building is still there today, though the old 海天酒楼 restaurant had long closed.

Starting as an odd job helper, it was only a year later in 1968 that the young Chef Mak was allowed into the kitchen. 

"To cut vegetables?" I wondered aloud. 

"No, to wash dishes" Chef Mak corrected me. 

It was only after a year of washing dishes that Chef Mak was allowed to touch food - yes, wash and cut vegetables. Chef Mak stayed at 海天酒楼 for 10 years, working hard and quietly to build his foundation, getting ready for his big break.

Fook-Lam-Moon-Restaurant
Photo Credit: Wikimedia 

Opportunity is attracted to the well prepared.

Chef Mak was head hunted when the legendary Fook Lam Moon restaurant 福臨門酒家 opened their Tsim Sha Tsui branch in 1978.

Founded in 1948, the first 福臨門酒家 in Wanchai is the favourite restaurant of Hong Kong's rich and famous. So many of Hong Kong's top echelon gather here on a daily basis that it is known as the "canteen of tycoons" 富豪飯堂.

At Fook Lam Moon, Chef Mak met his mentor, the legendary 羅安師傅. Chef Mak estimated that 70% of the best chefs in Hong Kong today can trace their lineage to Master Chef 羅安 - they are either his pupils or pupils of his pupils.

From my brief chat with Chef Mak, I gathered that he imbibed two principles from his master - the importance of the best ingredients and never to take short cuts in preparing food and cooking.

Master Chef 羅安 and his pupils gather regularly, with his disciples eagerly taking turns to host their mentor and alumni at their respective restaurants. The informal gathering is dubbed 羅安学院 or Law Onn Academy.

Chef Mak's meteoric career took off after two years at Fook Lam Moon.

Regent-Hotel-Hong-Kong
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

When the Regent Hotel 麗晶酒店 opened in Tsim Sha Tsui in 1980, the hotel handpicked Chef Mak for their banquet team.

Furama-Inter-continental-Hong-Kong
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Chef Mak's next stop was Furama Inter-Continental Hotel in Central Hong Kong which is famous for it's rotating restaurant known as La Ronda.

Regent-Hong-Kong
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

In 1985, Chef Mak returned to Regent Hotel as the Executive Chef.

Regent-Singapore
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Master Chef Mak's first involvement with Singapore was when Regent Hotel took over the previous Pavilion Inter-Continental Singapore.

Chef Mak remained with Regent Hotel for 15 years until 2005.

Grand-Hyatt-Beijing
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Chef Mak then spent the next 4 years at the Grand Hyatt in Beijing.

Four-Seasons-Hong-Kong
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

While in Beijing, Chef Mak got a call from his 羅安学院 senior, Master Chef Chan Yan Tak to support him at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.

Together, Master Chefs Mak and Chan helped Four Seasons' Lung King Heen 龍景軒, a fine Cantonese restaurant, clinched the Three Michelin Star Award in 2009 - becoming the Chinese restaurant to ever earned such a high honour.

Four-Seasons-Macao
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

From Lung King Heen 龍景軒, Chef Mak moved to sister restaurant Zi Yat Heen 紫逸軒 in Four Seasons Hotel Macau. Within a year in 2010, Zi Yat Heen clinched the Two Michelin Star Award. A most humble and unassuming man, to an outside observer, winning was almost a habit for Chef Mak.

Leaving Zi Yat Heen in 2011, Chef Mak was appointed to a succession of Executive Chef and consultancy stints at other top notch restaurants and hotels such as Three Michelin Star T’ang Court in Hong Kong, Conrad Hotel Macao, Four Seasons Pudong Shanghai, Grand Bay View Hotel, Zhuhai and others.

St.-Regis-Singapore
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

That's the period when Master Chef Mak crossed path again with Singapore at Yan Ting in St. Regis in 2013, returning to Hong Kong in 2015.

Mak-Hong-Kee-Kitchen

In Dec 2017, Master Chef Mak again returned to Singapore to open Mak Hong Kee Kitchen to stay closer to his daughter and grandchildren.

Master-Chef-Mak-Kip-Fu

👉 What it means for us foodies in Singapore is, we now can enjoy the culmination of Master Chef Mak's five decades of experience and skills in an informal casual setting - enjoy fine cuisines and Chef Mak's signature dishes at budget friendly prices. Now, everybody can enjoy cuisine by a serial Michelin Star awarded chef.

Read more about my visit to Mak Hong Kee Kitchen 👈 click

Mak-Hong-Kee-Kitchen

Restaurant name: Mak Hong Kee (HK) Kitchen
Address: 2 & 4 Keong Saik Road Singapore 089110 
GPS: 1°16'45.5"N 103°50'29.6"E | 1.279297, 103.841548 
Nearest MRT: Outram Park (5-7 minutes walk) 
Tel: 6909 0414 
Hours: 11:30am - 2:30pm | 6:00pm - 10:00pm (Saturday off)

Non Halal  

Date visited: 28 Jan 2018

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