#TatlerTable: Richard Ekkebus

Digest

November 16, 2015 | BY Charmaine Mok

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s culinary director pulled up a seat at our inaugural round table discussion on food issues, and presented a dish reflecting his love for quality ingredients with a story

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Among the chefs taking part in the first ever #TatlerTable was none other than Richard Ekkebus, culinary director of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental and Amber, its flagship restaurant. A familiar face on the dining scene, Ekkebus has seen his fair share of changes in the city considering he has spent the last decade evolving with the iconic hotel. Still, the round table gave the chef ample opportunity to reflect on the years past and share his thoughts with likeminded individuals.

RICHARD SAYS…

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#TatlerTable confirmed how much the food community is trying to make Hong Kong more sustainable through every individual effort in reducing the city’s carbon footprint, and through local sourcing where possible and appropriate.

At Amber, we have pushed to have vegetables in a more prominent place in our menu because the protein stamp of Hong Kong is so heavy. It’s so complicated to get rid of that.

Now, we have a menu with nine courses that are vegetarian. I think less is more now, people want to eat very well but also have the feeling of comfort.

Supermarkets are terrible with how much they waste. If you are an intelligent chef and you are running a business, then it is your responsibility to minimise, even eliminate, your waste.

I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but Hong Kong cannot sustain itself. It would be impossible to produce the amount of food needed for 20,000 restaurants and households.

We cannot grow our own wine tomorrow but we can start with water, which is probably the heaviest commodity we’re bringing into the city. Will diners accept that a restaurant like Amber will serve its own filtered, carbonised water? I hope so.

Recipe: Phillibon melon with Brocciu fresco

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“For #TatlerTable, I brought a dish which reminds me of the summer. It’s easy to share. For any picnic in Holland or France you would bring ham and melon, so we pimped it a bit with some flowers and organic melon. It is served with Brucchio, a lactose-free cheese made in Corsica from yew’s milk, and bellota ham, verbena and verbena flowers. It’s a lazy man’s dish because it has ham, cheese, melon and bread all in one.” 

Ingredients
Serves 4

1 organic Philibon melon
120g Brocciu fresco A.O.P (if not available, substitute with a nice organic ricotta)
36 slices of paletta di Bellota
1 bundle of lemon verbena
36 verbena flowers
Manni olive oil
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
Vintage sherry vinegar

Method 

  1. Cut the melon in two and seed the melon. Cut each half in 6 equal slices, remove the skin and turn each part so the angles are smooth and rounded, keep the trimmings.
  2. Lay out the 12 slices of melon and garnish each slice with the Bruccio, season with salt and white pepper.
  3. Roll the ham slices into tubes and place three tubes on each slice of melon. Garnish with the young verbena leaves and the flowers. Drizzle generously with manni olive oil .
  4. In the meantime mix the trimmings of the melon in a blender and add sherry vinegar and olive oil to taste and season with salt and white pepper. Spoon the emulsion of melon around the melon and enjoy!

#TatlerTable was hosted at Spring Workshop on September 16, 2015, bringing together Hong Kong’s leading tastemakers on the dining scene for a great debate about the pressing food matters of our time.

Photography by Jonathan Maloney and Inga Beckmann