the ritz-carlton hong kong executive chef
Courtesy of Paul L.

Name: Paul L.
Position: Chef de Cuisine
Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

Prior to stepping into his current role as the Chef de Cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, Paul carved a unique path in the culinary world. His journey began in a Cantonese restaurant and took him across continents, from Madagascar to Dubai, Peru, and the UK, before returning to Hong Kong in 1997.

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Joining The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong in 2011, Paul led the hotel’s acclaimed The Dragon Restaurant to earn one, then two Michelin stars. While Paul’s commitment to his craft has been unwavering, his focus on team dynamics and his ability to bring diverse individuals together have been key to his success.

Learn about Paul’s remarkable journey below.

When did you get involved in the industry and when did you join Marriott?

I came to Hong Kong from Guangzhou with my family when I was very young and started my love affair with Cantonese cuisine by working in a Cantonese restaurant. Starting out as an odd-job cleaner, I worked hard to make a name for myself, and then began my career as an “out-of-towner”, working in Madagascar, Dubai, Peru, and the UK until I returned to Hong Kong in 1997 to spend time with my family. I landed at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong in 2011 as the chef of The Dragon Restaurant, leading the restaurant to one Michelin star, and then two stars the following year.

the ritz-carlton hong kong executive chef

Courtesy of Paul L.

In your career journey, who is your career guide? And what is his/her greatest influence on you?

Although I have never had a master chef, I have learned from my colleagues, and I have become what I am now by combining the best of all worlds. I would observe the chef’s techniques, pay more attention to the details, and try his products, and through continuous practice and improvement, I became my own unique style.

There must have been lots of struggling moments, what is your greatest motivation?

When I first joined the industry, I had to work very hard to learn faster and faster. With determination and perseverance, I learned the basics of Cantonese cuisine in no time. For me, I never thought that work was difficult. My family was not rich when I was young, and I knew very well that I had to rely on my own efforts to earn a better living. All the achievements I have made are the result of my determination to learn and practice my cooking skills.

Management is an art. What is your understanding of a team, and how do you get along with your own?

Everyone is unique, and to bring people with different personality traits together and build a quality team, it is important to understand each member’s characteristics; to understand their characteristics, I have to put myself in their shoes to analyze and understand things, and then guide and teach them according to their abilities. Our team members are always encouraging each other to learn from each other, including myself, who is always striving to learn and innovate every day, and never allow myself to stand still.

the ritz-carlton hong kong executive chef

Courtesy of Paul L.

What are your hobbies? Do you enjoy cooking outside of work?

I always take the opportunity to rest after work so that I can be well prepared for the work ahead. Besides, I also help take care of my grandchildren so that my daughter and son can have a rest. At home, I cook a lot, such as chicken with soy sauce, sweet and sour pork, and braised abalone and goose feet whenever my children and grandchildren come home for dinner.

What is your advice to those just starting out in culinary?

Young people who are interested in joining the hotel catering industry must be diligent, proactive in learning and setting goals, constantly reviewing their own shortcomings, and learning on their own initiative to achieve real success.

When I was an apprentice, I had already set the goal of becoming a Chinese chef. In addition to carefully observing the skills of various chefs to learn from their strengths and make up for their weaknesses, I would also pay attention to the advertisements of various hotels recruiting chefs and use the requirements of the positions listed therein as my own learning and working goals, gradually upgrading my skills, and then climbed up to the position of a chef.

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