Career switch pays off for graphic-designer-turned-chef Vicky Lau, named Asia's Best Female Chef

The Bonito at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Bonito at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Aged Mandarin Sea Bass at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Aged Mandarin Sea Bass at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Ornament at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Ornament at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Rose Bresse Pigeon at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Rose Bresse Pigeon at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Wreth at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
The Wreth at the Tate Dining Room and Bar. -- PHOTO: TATE DINING ROOM AND BAR
Hong Konger Vicky Lau, who made a career switch from graphic designer to chef, was named Asia's Best Female Chef as part of the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, organised by William Reed Business Media.  -- PHOTO: ASIA’S 50 BEST RE
Hong Konger Vicky Lau, who made a career switch from graphic designer to chef, was named Asia's Best Female Chef as part of the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, organised by William Reed Business Media.  -- PHOTO: ASIA’S 50 BEST RESTAURANTS

A career switch from graphic designer to chef has paid off for Hong Konger Vicky Lau. The 34-year-old was named Asia's Best Female Chef today, as part of the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, organised by William Reed Business Media.

Lau is the chef and owner of Tate Dining Room and Bar at Elgin Street in the trendy Central district in Hong Kong. The 26-seat fine-dining restaurant, which opened in July 2012, serves French-inspired dishes with Asian influences

In a telephone interview from Hong Kong, she says: "I am happy and surprised to receive this award, it is an opportunity that everybody wants, and am honoured that the industry picked me."

She was in the advertising industry for six years, before taking a life-changing grand diplome course in pastry and cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok.

She says: "Through cooking, there's an added dimension and more room for creativity."

At Tate Dining Room and Bar, she serves a seasonal tasting featuring seafood ingredients from Japan and Hong Kong, which are presented in a visually arresting way. These dishes include pan-roasted sea bass with aged mandarin peel jam and poached oyster with Chinese licorice root oxtail consomme.

Before opening her restaurant, she spent one-and-a-half years as chef de cuisine at the now-defunct one Michelin-starred French restaurant, Cepage, also in Hong Kong.

The chef, who is single, hopes that this win can open more opportunities to work other chefs.

Top on her list is American chef Thomas Keller.

She says: "I was at Per Se in New York last year, and really enjoyed the simplicity of the flavours of the vegetables. There was nothing to complain about the meal, which is rare."

She will receive her award at the event to present Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, to be held on March 9 at Capella Singapore. The list is an offshoot of The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

kengohsz@sph.com.sg