Chef Jowett Yu of Ho Lee Fook: “Becoming a dad is probably the hardest job I’ve ever taken”
16 Jun 2020
Trying to balance family and work life is something that many working moms and dads (probably) face. For Chef Jowett Yu of He Lee Fook, who works long days and possibly even longer nights, he makes sure to spend almost every minute that he has with this family. While this could be a luxury that some parents may not afford, there's still value in knowing how chef Yu does it. As a tribute to dads and father figures, we sat down with the dashing chef himself and he shares how he stays inspired, the lessons he's learned since becoming a dad, and so much more!
How do you usually celebrate Father’s Day?
I definitely eat well and open a nice bottle of wine. But I don’t really need much other than spending time with my wife and son.
How do you stay inspired in the kitchen?
Travelling helps to broaden my horizon, also reading and seeing what chefs are doing around the world helps to stimulate the mind. Learning comes from everywhere and sometimes my peers and my staff have recipes or tricks that I also learn from.
What are your thoughts on the future of Hong Kong’s dining scene?
It remains one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world to cook as a chef. The restaurant scene is evolving constantly at a dizzying pace.
How do you balance work and family?
I try to spend some time with them in the mornings even [for] an hour or two, then I'm off for the whole day and won’t see them until they are asleep when I come home. On my off days, they are my priority and I try to spend every moment with them.
What has been the greatest lesson since you became a father?
[It’s] probably the hardest job I’ve ever taken. You have no idea what to expect on a week-to-week basis. Kids grow fast and trying to keep up with their energy level requires tremendous patience and physical conditioning. They are outsmarting themselves too quickly.
Besides work, what’s been keeping you busy?
Maintaining a healthy exercise routine 3-4 days a week and consciously choosing to eat the right things. Previously, I’ve put my health on the sideline before work and family. [I was] eating and drinking everything as I wished and I realised [now] that was a mistake. I'm now feeling healthier now than I ever had been and I'm glad I made a lifestyle change sooner rather than later.
What are three things you don’t take for granted?
Family before everything. Health. Living in the moment.
If there is only one thing you could teach your child, what would it be?
Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you.
Follow chef Jowett Yu on his food and dad-ventures @thejowski