Having spent 10 years working in Michelin-starred kitchens, Daniel Calvert has brought his passion and precision to his role as chef de cuisine at Belon in Hong Kong. After an impressive career highlighted by placements in restaurants such as The Ivy, Pied a Terre, Per Se and Epicure at Le Bristol, his foundations remain unmatched by peers of his 28 years.
E: When did you first discover you had a passion for cooking?
A: My passion for cooking came out of necessity – I would come home from school hungry and would need to cook. It may have been simple, but it definitely started the passion and the process.
E: Who were your biggest influences?
A: I’ve been influenced and inspired by the great chefs I have had the privilege of working under, such as Thomas Keller of Per Se in New York City and Shane Osborn of Pied à Terre in London. More so, it’s all of the chefs and cooks I work with on a daily basis. The BELON kitchen has a strong team culture, learning from each other is integral to maintaining that balance.
E: What is your experience like working in Michelin-starred restaurants?
A: Working in Michelin-starred restaurants is an environment that’s as dynamic as it is disciplined. There is great attention to detail and you work under intense, yet amazing pressure. It teaches you to respect and celebrate produce.
E: Where has been your favourite city to live and work?
A: I lived in New York for five years and loved it as it was equally competitive as romantic, like being on a film set everyday. However, Hong Kong is fast becoming a favourite as I love Cantonese food and the rich history of the city.
E: How has your time abroad influenced your cooking style?
A: My time abroad has significantly influenced my cooking style. You’re exposed to new ideas, techniques and flavours. Each experience has been unique and contributed to the development of my repertoire.
E: What are your favourite restaurants in Hong Kong?
A: My Hong Kong eating favourites in no particular order are; Arcane, Yardbird, Ronin, Le Garcon Saigon and Ho Lee Fook. The latter two are also part of the Black Sheep Restaurants’ family and their chefs, Bao La and Jowett Yu, produce amazing food.
E: What is your favourite dish currently on your menu?
A: The BELON menu is forever changing, but I would have to say, our Pigeon Pithivier with fig and amaretto… Enough said!
“If I could give one piece of advice to aspiring chefs, it would be to not focus on building your profile but instead to focus on building a repertoire.”
E: Where do you source your ingredients from?
A: Being based in Hong Kong we have access to incredible international produce as well as boutique suppliers located in the New Territories. To break it down, 10 percent comes from Hong Kong, 50 percent from France and 40 percent from Japan.
E: This edition is all about seafood, what is your favourite type of seafood and why?
A: My favourite seafood is sea urchin because the characteristics are unique and vary with origin. You can source it from Hokkaido, Maine or Santa Barbara, all are varied and will bring surprises to your palate.
E: How would you prepare your favourite type of seafood?
A: The best way to prepare sea urchin is to serve it simply atop a perfectly cooked omelet, just like we do at BELON!
E: What is the one dish you would consider a “must try” when visiting Belon?
A: BELON’s millefeuille is a must try. The puff pastry is hand rolled and there’s great effort taken to make each component as well as possible in its assembly. This process is indicative of the care and attention to detail that goes into all of our dishes. We have guests stop by late at night after eating dinner elsewhere in Hong Kong because this is the dessert they want to end their night with. I believe that speaks volumes about its distinction.
· 4 whole lobster tails
· 4 ratte potatoes
· 10 yellow celery leaves
· 10 tarragon leaves
· 10 sprigs of dill
· 8 cornichons
· 4 carrots
· 2 leeks
· 2 onions
· 500g white wine
· 4 lemons
· 6 litres of water
· 2 egg yolks
· 250g canola oil
· 75g Dijon mustard
· 50g ketchup
· lemon juice
1. First prepare the court bouillon by bringing all ingredients to a boil.
2. Poach the lobster tails for five minutes and the claws for six.
3. Remove the flesh carefully from the shell and set aside.
4. Prepare mayonnaise: combine egg yolks, mustard, ketchup and lemon juice in a medium bowl – slowly whisk in the canola oil and continue until thick.
5. Soft boil the potatoes and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
6. Build the lobster salad and garnish with the soft herbs.