Dim Sum is a variety of chinese cooking that is held in very high esteem by Asian chefs.
Andrew Loh from the China Sichuan in Sandyford is a man of incredible grace and skill in the kitchen, yet when talking about Dim Sum he quashes the idea that he is a Dim Sum Chef as if the idea were laughable.
A Dim Sum Chef is something else, an artist, they come in to the kitchen early in the morning to work in peace, if there is someone else there, they can’t concentrate. Such is the level of the great Chinese Chefs who devote their entire lives to the mastery of a delicate and precise balance of flavours and textures. T
hat being said, we gave the whole thing a stab last week in little more than an afternoon. The ignorance of us westerners eh?
As I said Andrew is an incredible chef, he posses a keen pair of hands that when handling food are both gentle and firm, his eyes are trained into finding the weak point in every piece of food in front of him.
He has been working in kitchens for his entire life, everyone in his family have been working in kitchens their entire lives.
This man clearly understands food in a way that we cannot even grasp. Apart from being a fantastic chef, he is also a very interesting man to talk to. He is full of little stories and anecdotes about life in a Chinese kitchen. He tells us all about the politics of what certain chefs will feed the wait staff for their staff meal, the real story behind MSG, how his Grandfather had to flee from China with his family to escape communism.
It became clear as we started cooking that Andrew is a man of extremely high standards. He demands perfection from himself. Several times he disposed of doughs or fillings based on what seemed to be little more than hunches to us, but to him was probably an insult to the idea of food itself.
However he has a simple enough approach to cooking, if it’s not needed, get rid of it. What does the dish need? What does the food want? Does it want seasoning? Does it need more lightness? More richness? Does it really need those four extra garnishes?
He is straightforward and straight talking. I get the sense that Andrew Loh is not only a high calibre of chef, he is also a high character of person, a man of integrity, no-nonsense, hardworking. The kind of man I would be very happy to grow up to become.
~ Mark O’Brien