The “demon chef” reflects on his beginnings and shares exclusively with us his plans for the future, from new restaurants to a cookbook debut.Alvin Leung is an intriguing figure. Nicknamed ‘the demon chef’, most of us know him for his take on Hong Kong cuisine with references to molecular gastronomy. Aside from Bo Shanghai, the local culinary icon is ready to expand his repertoire beyond his beloved Bo Innovation and Bib and Hops, his contemporary Korean eatery.
While he was born in London and raised in Toronto, Leung spent his childhood years in Hong Kong, but moved to London to continue his education. It wasn’t until 1986 that he returned to the East after graduating to begin his career in food. He presented his take on molecular gastronomy when he opened Bo Innovation, a restaurant serving what Leung coined as ‘X-treme Chinese cuisine’ based on contemporary execution of Chinese—even local Hong Kong—dishes. The response was divided, sparking conversations on this local representation of molecular gastronomy that Leung had learned at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli.
The chef himself has more to say about defining his own cuisine. “There are more adverse than positive tags on molecular gastronomy then and now,” he says. “I think most people have a rather negative experience of it. I strongly believe that it was never just about the food presented, it involved a chef’s artistic interpretation that helped open up many minds.
“I never advertise my cuisine as molecular, because it isn’t,” he continues. “Instead, I left it quite vague, because I wanted the guests to experience a fluid expression of my take on Chinese, or local cuisine. Simple as that.”