The Weekender Interview: Andrew Wong

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Weekender Interview: Andrew Wong
The chef behind London's most exciting Chinese restaurant on Pierre Koffmann, not going to the cinema, and washing up for his parents in return for Walkman batteries

What image do you currently have on your phone’s wallpaper?
My daughter pulling a funny face

What was your first job?
Washing plates in my parents restaurant, being paid in batteries for my Walkman

Gordon or Marco? 
Both

What was the last film you saw in the cinema? 
I have two children. I don’t go to the cinema

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Nissan brand instant noodles

Where are you going on your next holiday? 
Err…..wherever my wife Natalie demands

What industry figure do you most admire? 
Pierre Koffmann, he eats like someone should eat, like a diner, not like some anal chef over-analysing every microbe of every bite. His curiosity is incredible and I have never seen someone love being in the kitchen as much as him. He is incredibly inspiring. Plus, if you see some of the text messages (and video messages) he sends, you would have a whole new level of admiration

If you weren’t in restaurants, what would you do? 
I would hope that I would have been a doctor. Obviously, qualifying for med school would be the immediate issue.

Biggest regret?
Not spending enough time with the members of my family who are no longer with me

Pet hate?
Dirty chefs. And chefs who constantly reel off the list of Michelin starred restaurants that they have worked at, only for it to transpire that they were peeling potatoes for one week at one place and vac packing nine hours a day at another, and were probably hated by every chef that they ever worked with

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
“I’m a vegan coeliac who doesn’t like garlic onions or mushrooms”

Marmite: love it or hate it?
Love it

Describe your cooking style in three words
Chinese/explorative/fun

What country do you next want to visit?
I want to spend more time in western, Islamic China, and Yunnan province

Most overrated food?
Truffles (I can see chefs spitting at me already!).For the price, I don’t get what all the fuss is about, if you want something with a pungent aroma, try stinking tofu!

Restaurant czar for a day – what would you implement?
All customers who no show without notification to be put onto a black list for all restaurants to share and refuse future reservations

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Something about McDonald’s being better, that our portions are too small, that everything tastes like it comes from a ready meal. Blah blah… I’m very comfortable with the fact that no matter what we do at A.Wong, we will never impress everyone, and nor would I want to

What made you want to become a chef?
My dad dying

What do you cook at home on your days off?
I try to avoid the kitchen at all costs, there are too many restaurants on my to do list. The Clove Club and Core are currently right at the top.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
That the hardest journeys lead to the most beautiful destination. Kitchen life is tough, pay is indeed crap, but hey, to excel in any industry requires one to work more then just a 9-5. If you want that, go work in some office and hide behind YouTube and the BBC homepage and waste the day away

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My wok

iPhone or Android?
iPhone

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
That the only thing that no one can take away from you in life is your education and knowledge

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
The gym

Twitter or Instagram?
Both

Tipple of choice?
Gin & tonic

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Wonton noodles filled with dried shrimps with chilli oil

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