For Chef Alvin Leung, food must be much more than a pleasant experience with a beginning and an end. According to this British chef of Chinese ancestry, what happens in the kitchen should transgress sensibility to culminate not only with the senses but with a spiritual experience. Hence, his work translates into a strange form of experimentation; it becomes the perfect tool to reach the limits of our comfort zone… and take his guests beyond expectations.
Known around the world as the Demon Chef, Leung strives to create radical dishes inspired by the most basic elements from traditional Chinese cuisine. His style and personality are an explosive combination: Leung is one of those individuals you either love or hate. There are no midpoints; only extremes. And it is precisely from this chiaroscuro personality that Xtreme Chinese Cuisine was born.
Leung does not subscribe to a particular culinary style and its hallmark is experimentation. From the selection of ingredients and the juxtaposition of textures to the details of the presentation, each dish is designed to provoke extreme reactions in diners. “I try not to have favorite ingredients, because that limits my perspective, my feeling, my imagination,” says Leung.
The primary objective of Xtreme Chinese Cuisine is the exploration of textures, ingredients and presentations, always using a key element of Chinese gastronomy. Starting from there, the Demon Chef incorporates other ingredients that provide texture, as well as contrasts of temperatures and flavors.
Leung takes advantage of his eastern roots and his training in the United States and London. “In the East, texture and temperature are essential, while, in the West, the appearance and taste are most important,” he says. “If you use all your senses, the experience will remain forever in your memory”.
One of his best-known dishes is the Shalong Boa (little dragon), small dumplings that seem to explode in the mouth. “Traditionally, they would be made of a thick crust filled with chopped pork meat, but I decided to use the same ingredients, solidify the liquids and give it the appearance of an egg yolk”, explains Leung. The taste is almost the same as that of the original dish, but the presentation and texture are quite different.
Leung´s work has inspired other chefs around the world and even transferred to other disciplines. Such is the case of the filmmaker Ryan Hopkinson, who made his short film Demon Days: Alvin Leung based on the extravagant creations of the flamboyant chef.
You can taste Leung‘s cuisine at Hong Kong’s Bo Innovation (three Michelin stars), or at Bo London (one Michelin star) in the British capital. ■