Director and window chef Fow Pyng Hu owns three restaurants. He gets his inspiration from Holland, Japan, and everything in between.
Time to think. After this tough year, I’m going back even more than usual. I was editing a movie for my staff, from footage we’ve shot over the years. And when I saw that we were an effortlessly diverse group, I realized that there was a theme in my life that kept coming back. It is related to identity in the broadest sense of the word.
In my fictional films, characters struggle with their identity. There is uncertainty casting a shadow over the things they do, from which they cannot escape. It also keeps me busy with my work. For example, I think it is important for my office staff to feel unobstructed and at home, regardless of the complexity or fragility of their identity.
Once upon a time our kitchen was run by only 2 dutch girls for the first time. The business had just opened six months ago and I was in Japan. When they sent me a picture of how busy she was, a smile of pride popped up on my face. For them the work was hard, nothing special in and of itself, but something broke for me. Ramen had a male image and the chef had to be Japanese. The two girls set me free from that. I felt great. It’s normal now for two non-Japanese women to cook with us, we don’t think about it anymore. Reminds me of my time in New York. For the first time, people weren’t asking me where I came from. Everyone came from somewhere.
We are neutral in the workplace
I subconsciously searched for a structure in which identity does not play a role. My restaurant has become a place we can move around freely. We take the profession and its origins very seriously, but we are not bound by customs, Our hierarchy or background. We are equally neutral in the workplace.
I can mark the end in my feature films. But I am not in control of things. The crisis left a financial hole, and as a group we could not live with it. Let us now hope that the new year fulfills its promises. Because we shine meticulously by working with so many different people. In this way we have risen beyond our identity.
Jiaozi, Chinese New Year pies
• tapered cabbage
Half a tablespoon of salt
• 200 g minced pork
• a block of hard tofu
A clove of garlic, finely grated
• An equal amount of ginger, grated finely
• 1 green onion, finely chopped
• 3 teaspoons soy sauce
• A dash of sesame oil
• 1 to 2 packs of Round jiaozi skins
To prepare the dipping sauce:
• 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
• 1 rijstazijn
Half a teaspoon of sugar
Chop the cabbage well, sprinkle it with salt, leave it for 20 minutes, and then squeeze it well until the moisture comes out. Knead cabbage with minced meat, tofu, 3 teaspoons of soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, garlic, ginger and green onions. Put some padding on the jiao paper and fold it well (nice how-to videos are on YouTube).
Heat a little oil in a large frying pan (with a lid over it). Fill the pan with jiaozis. Fry them briefly. Pour half a cup of water. We put the lid on the pan and cook for another 4 minutes on high heat. Then lift the lid off the pan. Wait for the rest of the liquid to boil to dry. Add a little oil and sauté until the gyozes have a nice brown crust on the bottom. Lay everything brown on the side and serve with dipping sauce on the side.
Liesbeth Maliepaard, Charlotte Kleyn, Fow Pyng Hu, Samuel Levie and Merijn Tol tell stories behind the food in this section, complete with the recipe.