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Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 17:37

Creating a great recipe for success

By Fannie Guan

Frannie Guan meets young hospitality and catering industry professionals who agree that going to good schools has helped them to stay ahead of the game.

Creating a great recipe for success
Chef Paul Wong (right) and his friend and classmate from the Advanced Certificate in Chinese Cuisine program are co-owners of a Chinese restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.  (P rovided to China Daily)

Creating a great recipe for success
Young people training to be chefs take part in a Chinese cuisine competition.

Creating a great recipe for success
Students of catering and event management demonstrate the skills they have acquired.

Since he was a boy, Paul Wong, 34, always knew his career would have something to do with food, like that of his father who ran a restaurant in Guangxi province. However, what he is today is the result of a crucial decision he made at 17.

“I scored 1 out of 30 in Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination,” said Wong. There was a reason for his poor results.  When he was seven his family boarded a boat carrying them and 20 other refugees from Guangxi province to Hong Kong. Due to his refugee status, he was unable to enroll at school until he was 15.

Wong’s family of four was housed in a 9.3 sq m room at the Pillar Point Vietnamese Refugees Centre (PPVRC) in Tuen Mun.  His parents worked all day on construction sites. By the time he was 12, Wong took up the job of cooking for the family.

The first dish he cooked was stir-fried vegetables. The moment he put the dish on the table, he knew it was not quite what he wanted. “What my mother cooked would look green, but mine was a little bit yellow,” said Wong. That day his father ate his rice with soy sauce, in silence.

That was the moment Wong realized the road to success was challenging, that it required hard work and passion.  Wong felt he needed to learn the fine art of Cantonese cuisine in a systematic way.

He applied for a place at Elementary Chinese Cuisine program at Chinese Cuisine Training Institute (CCTI), which he believes is one of Hong Kong’s finest training schools. In his first two years at CCTI Wong not only acquired techniques but also improved his skills through constant practice in its training restaurants.  It is the trainee chefs who cook for CCTI guests.

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