Diversity and the Future
178 Degrees is focused on showcasing the finest New Zealand products in Hong Kong. This couldn’t be done without the support of dedicated chefs who care deeply about the provenance of the food they serve, and inspire us with their innovative cuisine and cooking philosophies.
Recently, we spoke to Hong Kong born chef, Ron Zajac. Here’s what he had to say.
Born: Hong Kong
Claims to fame: Wildfire and Qin Qin on Quay
Specialty Cuisine: Japanese, Thai, Italian and Chinese
Favourite ingredient: Seafood
Why did you decide to become a chef and how did you get started?
My family were immigrants to New Zealand, my mum who was a single parent tried many businesses including a restaurant in Auckland. So I helped out and eventually got an apprenticeship. However, I do think my love of food goes back a long way, being Chinese and Mediterranean, food is in our DNA.
What are you doing now?
Surprisingly, I work as a director and producer at a Hong Kong TV station. I Also produce a short series that teaches simple cooking tips online.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
The rush for one; testosterone and adrenaline. Second is the people. Some of my most cherished friendships are fellow staff. Third is the exploration, the world of food is filled with amazement.
Which ingredient do you most like working with and why?
Seafood! Being a Cantonese/kiwi guy, seafood is life! It is also filled with contradiction, very delicate but yet the flavour can stand alone.
What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
Nothing warms my soul like a good curry! During my apprenticeship, I studied under a chef from Hyderabad and the scent has stuck with me ever since.
What’s been your best meal in the last six months?
In a Yakitori joint in Shinjuku! Normally chicken is nothing to write home about, but I could write a novel just to describe the experience.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in the culinary industry?
The world is changing, especially to the paradigm shift with which macro-nutrients are good for the body. Another challenge is the way we source our ingredients, however, these challenges will only improve our diet in my view.
What’s the future of food?
Diversify from vertical farming to algae. From lab grown meat to animal welfare. From a vegan to ketogenic diet. I don't believe in one model for all but improving the well-being of the planet is a must.