This chef makes a living cooking dinner out of his apartment | CNBC Make It

This chef makes a living cooking dinner out of his apartment | CNBC Make It


Can I try? Yeah, absolutely. Thank you! Chris Kong has cooked for celebrity A-listers
and top name chefs like Daniel Humm, cutting his teeth in some of the
world’s most renowned restaurants. But last year the 32-year-old chef quit the glitz and
glamour of Michelin star kitchens for, well, his own. After working for so many of these great chefs,
and doing their kind of food and learning from them as well, you kind of want to find out,
“What’s your style? What does Chris’ food look like?” Kong is the host of
Dearborn Supper Club, an exclusive private dining experience
with a distinctly average setting. I’ve come to his apartment in the
east coast of Singapore to find out what has got guests queuing up
outside his door to pay $100 ahead. Welcome, guys. Happy Monday! So, here what we have in front of
you is a beautiful congkak board. So each of these little snacks kind of play
a little story about where I’ve worked and what I’ve done and how I’ve learned
and come into Dearborn. I began my career at a very young age, about 15. My
parents actually have an Italian restaurant in Seattle. So they were the first Chinese to open
an Italian restaurant in Washington. So from there I’ve always
been intrigued and been in the restaurant business
and kind of just grew up with it. Chris started out on a traditional path, going to university
to study business, but soon returned to his passion. Later on, I knew I wanted to expand and travel and
learn more and work for the best chefs that I could. So, after I graduated college I actually bought
a one-way ticket and I went to Malaysia. I worked for an open-air kind of Chinese seafood
restaurant to learn about Asian cuisine. And found himself quickly
rising in the ranks. After Malaysia, I went to Singapore. I sent my CV to a few restaurants and
I got a call back from Guy Savoy. So that was a different spectrum
from what I was coming from. You describe the cuisine as Modern-American,
but you’ve got quite a varied culinary history, so how do you use
those influences? It’s focused on Modern-American
because as a Chinese-American I grew up in the U.S. and
it’s such a melting pot. The technique that was drilled into me with
The NoMad and Daniel Humm and Guy Savoy was very structured, it
was very technique-driven. And so I try to implement that into my cooking,
as well as things that I enjoy eating. But he’s also given the menu his own sustainable twist,
using mainly vegetarian produce, grains and seafood. We wanted to cook for people the way that we
feel that would help the environment as well. The best feedback is when
people come back and are like, “Oh, I didn’t know that was a
vegetable. I didn’t miss the meat.” Chris is one of a growing number
of so-called supper club chefs who are capitalizing on diners’ insatiable
appetites for new eating experiences. It’s a trend that’s taken off in cities
from New York to London. Singapore alone has dozens, with prices
ranging from $35 to $105 per head. So, Chris, you’ve set the pricetag at S$138, that’s
about $100. How did you come to that price point? So, what we did was we actually had a couple
of dinners before with some friends, and family as well, to kind of just gauge
where our value would be. This was the average price
point that everybody agreed on. I wanted to give people the feeling
that they were coming to a restaurant, but just maybe not in
the space, in our house. So you’re getting the same
quality of service and food and there are no shortcuts in
anything that we’re going to do. He currently runs the business full-time,
enlisting the help of his wife and sister-in-law. How does this spread
across a week? So, on Monday I’ll start to order things,
look at the inventory, what we need to do. And if there are any allergies or dislikes and things that
I need to consider when I’m ordering the food. And then on Wednesday and
Thursday, I’ll begin prepping. And then on Friday and
Saturday, of course, it’s dinner. Then on Sunday is the one kind of day off, where
we get to relax and spend time with the family. You really couldn’t fit
in a regular job. Not the normal job, I would
say. Not with all this. And says his business background
has certainly come in handy. This is how you’re making a living
now. How does that work for you? Cooking is one part of it, but I think you
need to also understand the cash flow and all the other little, teeny
bits of running a business. But the benefits from it, it’s more than
money. It’s being able to express yourself and being able to do something
that you love to do. It’s a lot of uphill at first, and then
it gets cruising after a while. I hope.

11 thoughts on “This chef makes a living cooking dinner out of his apartment | CNBC Make It

  1. I'm questioning the legality of cooking for the public out of your home kitchen without a health inspector approval. Does he have a business license?

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