In 2006 I started a new position as a Sous Chef at the Western Kitchen at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of the largest catering facilities in all of Asia. Thanks to my German Executive Chef Bruno Burg I’d learned a great deal about kitchen management, menu development, recipe creation and costing. Here I learned mostly about the financial side of a large kitchen operation.
At the Sha Tin Club House, Hong Kong Jockey Club, 2006
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), founded in 1884, is one of the oldest institutions in Hong Kong. It provides entertainment based on horse racing, sporting, and betting. It runs about 700 races annually at its Sha Tin and Happy Valley racetracks. Additionally, it provides dining, social, sport and recreation facilities to its thousands of members, all of whom belong to the wealthy social elite of KH society.
The HKJC is Hong Kong’s largest taxpayer and largest community benefactor! Its charity trust has donated billions of dollars in support of various social needs in Hong Kong. Being employed at the HKJC was one of the greatest experiences in my career because it was a totally different environment. Yes, I worked in a large catering kitchen, but it was not a hotel. Since the HKJC is a high-profile membership club, we catered for many rich and famous people in the region including Stanley Ho for example, the famous casino owner from Macao.
Gambling is prohibited in Hong Kong but is an important part of Chinese culture and immensely popular.
The Hong Kong government was very smart to allow betting on horses in a controlled setting and using this income for charitable purposes. The annual revenue is tremendous.
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have made it to Hong Kong as it is not easy to land a job there. You need to be either damn good, well connected, very experienced or maybe as in my case, just lucky. You do not just apply there and get a job, although I did exactly that. I just applied, but I did not have any network in Asia in 2005.
Some people argue about which place is superior, Hong Kong or Singapore? I know both places very well and in my opinion each is unique. There are similarities but they are distinct, though each has its own charm. I think that Singapore and Hong Kong consider themselves to be rivals. Each one has so many excellent restaurants and hotels. Not to mention all the other street food venues. Hong Kong people love to eat. The competition is stiff and great. Both are highly organized and clean cities by Asian standards.
Singapore is a very modern state, and a lot of innovation and long-term planning happens there. You can see that the Singaporean leaders always work with great vision for their little country. And it’s been paying off. 19.11 million tourists visited in 2019. I never worked in Singapore, but I love the city. But if you want to get a taste of the real East meets West, then you’d better visit Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong you can find a mix between modern westernization (Central District) and old charm Asian street life (Mongkok). It is still a fascinating contrast today. Hong Kong was an important part of my life and will always remain in my heart. Once you have the Hong Kong work experience on your resume, it will be a door-opener wherever you may go next. This is what I have experienced. You will be taken on board with the greatest pleasure.
I also had the best salary package ever including overall benefits. It just was great. For instance, my company provided me with a one-bedroom apartment, fully furnished, on Hong Kong Island (City Center) for free. I did not have to pay a single cent, not even for electricity. I was provided a one-month salary allocation for personal belongings. With that money I bought furniture and utensils for my apartment. Relocation was paid by my company equal to one month’s pay as well.
That was fantastic!
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