For those who needed to know chef Agustin Ferrando Balbi, you’d greatest dine at Ando, his first solo enterprise opened in collaboration with Jia Group earlier this summer season.
Not simply that it’s the primary solo present of the previous Haku chef: Plucking the identify from his surname Ferrando, in addition to borrowing from two homonyms in Spanish and Japanese — two cultures closest to his coronary heart — Ando is a deeply private venture the place every dish corresponds to a second or chapter within the chef’s private life and profession.
The subsequent smartest thing could also be sitting down for a dialog with the person, as we’ve accomplished for our newest iteration of 27 Questions. It’s right here we study of the previous Haku chef’s Italian and Argentinian roots; on assembly his spouse, Yoshiko; his largest position mannequin and a very powerful lesson he realized from them. However on a grander scale, we’re additionally capable of glean a bit of extra about what this 12 months has meant for a lot of within the restaurant world, and his rising sense of care and custodianship for the folks round him in addition to the surroundings at massive.
For one, opening throughout such a nerve-racking interval for the hospitality trade worldwide, Balbi believes in a higher want to stress psychological wellbeing. “Taking good care of the provided that it’s a very nerve-racking time for an trade that naturally operates underneath nice strain, caring for the staff’s psychological well being may also turn out to be much more essential for cooks and restaurateurs transferring ahead,” he says.
He provides, “extra folks can pay extra consideration to components they’ll supply domestically, to help gamers within the native area, and in addition begin trying into what we are able to do for our group to assist them pull by means of. It’s our accountability.”
Diners at Ando will simply word how a lot Balbi’s menu is fueled by the drive to honour the traditions of his household’s combined heritage, in addition to of his formative coaching spent in a few of Tokyo’s most revered kitchens — together with two-Michelin-starred Zurriola, three-starred Nihonryori Ryugin and two-starred Cuisines Michel Troisgros — regardless of not talking a single phrase of the language at first. After the years of exhausting work, it’s good to see that his innate sense of gratitude and perseverance additionally interprets onto his dishes, and as we study, by means of his day-to-day life.
“The opening of Andō, my first restaurant as chef-owner, is particularly important for me because it’s an amazing feeling to have the ability to put my recollections and journey on the plate and inform my story,” the chef says. “We’re so fortunate to be right here in Hong Kong, and we’re very pleased to be open.”
Whereas he’s not creating new dishes or operating the go, we cease chef Balbi for a fast chit-chat.
Identify: Agustin Ferrando Balbi
1. Are you a morning particular person or an evening owl?
Night time owl. I believe that is the character of my trade, we’re used to going out and staying up till very late. The mornings [laughs] is usually a battle.
2. What’s your distinctive occasion trick?
I could make meals, so I could make folks pleased.
3. Do you think about your self a superb prepare dinner? What’s your greatest dish?
The one I [haven’t] made but.
4. For those who might solely eat one factor for the remainder of your life, what would it not be?
Rice. I can go on an island with solely rice and survive. I find it irresistible in all its kinds.
5. What’s your drink of alternative?
Fernet branca with coke, very Argentinian. It jogs my memory of friendship, which is essential when I’m so removed from residence.
6. What’s the greatest meal you’ve ever eaten in Hong Kong?
Softbank private kitchen. Every part was very scrumptious and new to me — the snake soup was wonderful.
7. What was your first job?
Serving to my mom’s pal at a vegetable market after I was 12 years outdated. Little did I do know again then, that my mom would give the stall proprietor cash to pay for my ‘wage.’ She needed me to study the virtues of incomes my very own cash.
8. Who’s your position mannequin and why?
My grandmother, Lola. She taught me classes about life — how by no means to surrender and maintain going as a result of when you put your greatest in one thing, one thing good will occur in the long run. My grandmother moved to Argentina through the battle and it was very difficult. However she by no means seemed again and simply stored going. Later in life, her foremost aim was to make her household pleased and that alone takes lots of braveness.
9. What’s your favorite childhood reminiscence?
Consuming at my grandmother’s home. She would make one thing completely different each day.
10. What number of international locations have you ever been to?
Many, perhaps 35? I’ve been to virtually each continent aside from Oceania. [My top destination is] New Zealand. It’s the identical latitude as Argentina, residence to nice produce and wonderful native meals — or not less than, what I think about it to be.
11. For those who might reside anyplace else on the planet, the place would it not be?
In all probability Mexico. They’ve probably the most bountiful and historic cuisines that I’d love to find.
12. What’s the final dream you bear in mind waking as much as?
A very long time in the past. I don’t bear in mind precisely what occurred, it was in all probability one thing within the restaurant.
13. What’s your largest remorse in life?
Being very far-off and subsequently not current for my mom’s and grandmother’s funerals.
14. What’s your favorite scent in the entire world?
Two issues -– shallots being fried, and the fats in foie gras rendering on a scorching pan.
15. What’s one factor you’ve by no means revealed to your dad and mom?
I used to nick the change after I ran grocery errands for them.
16. What’s your biggest worry?
17. What do you hate most about dwelling in Hong Kong?
The rain within the autumn. It’s very shocking, it may be sunny one second and two minutes later, the sky would break up open and you’ve got intense storms, and naturally, you’ll not have an umbrella with you.
18. What number of pairs of sneakers do you presently personal? which do you put on probably the most typically?
I’ve 5 that I [wear] for work. Sneakers are tremendous essential for cooks, particularly since you’re in your toes on a regular basis. After which just a few to [wear] on Sundays on my day without work.
19. The place do you go while you wish to be alone?
I am going to the sector close to my home in Blissful Valley. It’s an open space close to the racecourse, I prefer to take walks round to clear my thoughts.
20. Which second in your life would you most prefer to relive?
Consuming at my grandmother’s home after I was a baby, each day was [exciting], throughout good meals.
21. For those who might invite any 5 folks on the planet to your dream feast, who would they be?
My mom, my grandmother, Carlos Bilardo (soccer coach of Argentina nationwide staff who gained the world championship in ‘86); Michael Jordan and Michael Schumacher.
22. Do you’ve gotten any favorite tattoos or particular birthmarks? What’s it?
The huge tattoo on my arm. I really like artwork in any type and I see tattoos as a type of artwork. I’ve koi fishes as a part of the tattoo. In accordance with a legend, there was a faculty of koi fish swimming in opposition to the present, they reached a waterfall on the backside of the river. Whereas some [of the] fish turned, many refused to surrender and tried leaping from the river to the highest of the mountain, which appeared like an unattainable job. However after 100 years of leaping, one koi lastly reached the highest of the waterfall, and in recognition of its perseverance, the gods turned the koi right into a dragon. I believe this story actually captures my motto in life.
23. Have you ever ever skilled love at first sight? Inform us about it.
Sure, with my spouse, we met in Tokyo by means of a pal. It was prompt, not one thing I can actually clarify however after I noticed her, I advised myself “I wish to marry this woman.”
24. What’s your typical Sunday like?
For me Sunday is for household. I’ll get up very early to play with my son. We go to the park and play soccer within the morning, after which go residence and put together lunch collectively. Within the afternoon, we’ll watch a documentary about sea animals which my son likes very a lot. After that the entire household will stroll round Wan Chai market as he loves to take a look at fishes and greens after which to Central, simply to discover town earlier than returning residence for dinner, cartoons after which sleep.
25. What’s one film everybody ought to see?
‘El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes).’ It’s a really stunning Argentinian movie, one which teaches you a lot life classes in only one film.
26. What’s your largest responsible pleasure?
Meals, I eat an excessive amount of (chuckles).
27. What’s your life motto?
“Doesn’t matter how sluggish you go, so long as you don’t cease.”