A leading Chinese-cuisine chef who spent his career in Hong Kong and Singapore has died, days after the fine-dining restaurant whose kitchen he headed won its first Michelin star. Mok Kit-keung was 58.
Mok, a married father of three, died suddenly on September 17 in Singapore. The cause of death has not been disclosed.
On September 1, Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Singapore hotel, where Mok had been executive chef since transferring there from Hong Kong in 2017, was awarded a Michelin star for the first time.
Mok was also instrumental in Shang Palace at the Kowloon Shangri-La in Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong, obtaining a second Michelin star in 2012.
Born in Hong Kong, Mok was known for creative Chinese dishes in which he deftly incorporated Western ingredients, and for his variety of cooking methods. He gained the confidence to do this from his 40-plus years of experience as a Chinese chef, nearly half of which he spent in Singapore kitchens at establishments including the Marina Bay Sands and Raffles Hotel Singapore.
“In Singapore you have Malay, Nonya [Straits Chinese], Indonesian and Western cuisines so I was inspired by them, constantly thinking of new dishes,” he said in an interview with the Post in 2013. “It’s a bit harder for my staff, who have only done traditional Chinese cooking, but I try to push them by giving them ideas. Then it’s up to them to create new dishes.”
Mok returned to Hong Kong in 2011 to be closer to his family, and worked at Shang Palace, where he presented signature dishes including braised spare ribs with chin kiang vinegar and cabbage, Japanese-style braised bird’s nest with pumpkin cream, and oven-baked cod fillet with egg white and conpoy.
At Lunar New Year, Mok and his culinary team would prepare lo hei, a large spread of food, in the lobby of the hotel. Following Southeast Asian tradition, there were lots of ingredients on the tables, from shredded carrot and radish to pomelo, calamansi, smoked salmon and crispy chips, along with condiments and spices. Guests were invited to grab a pair of chopsticks and help toss the ingredients in the air in the hope of a prosperous year ahead.
The tradition was continued by his successor, chef Daniel Cheung Long-yin, until the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020.
Mok cooked for many famous people and dignitaries over the years, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, and travelled to Morocco in 2008 to cook for King Mohammed VI.
In his spare time Mok was an avid fisherman, who posted pictures on Facebook of his latest catches of fish and crabs, as well as an enthusiastic cyclist.
He leaves behind a widow, two sons and a daughter.