With his trademark colour-streaked hair, cross earrings and sunglasses, chef Alvin Leung has blazed a trail of his own in the culinary arts. As chef/owner of Bo Innovation, Leung’s unique entrees and taste sensations established him as a global culinary innovator. Despite his 'rock and roll' image, Leung's professional training is in engineering, a discipline he exercised for many years. This methodical, almost scientific, approach manifests in every dish he presents. Breaking down preconceptions of what Chinese food should look and taste like, his combination of gastro art and science stimulates each and every sense. Leung is a rarity in Michelin circles for being a self-taught chef. He worked as an acoustical engineer in Hong Kong, before taking over Bo, a friend’s speakeasy. That speakeasy evolved into a full-fledged restaurant. He has become familiar on TV as a judge on Masterchef Canada and the host of The Maverick Chef and Wok Stars. He also starred in the Korean food and travel programmes, Seoul Extreme and Seoul Refined. The China Daily calls Bo Innovation’s extreme cuisine “an eclectic revamp of traditional Cantonese favorites that is part science experiment and part divine inspiration.”
Q - From engineering to food. Who inspired you to become a Chef?
A - Cooking has been a passion of mine since about 11 or 12 years old. But engineering is my family business so I did that because I was being a good son. Eventually, circumstances and opportunities came about for me to pursue this change in career. I was lucky. A friend invited me to be a partner in his speakeasy and eventually I bought him out and just turned it into Bo Innovation.
Q - Do you find it a challenge to constantly innovate? What influences your work?
A - It’s a challenge that I enjoy. People always ask me what inspires me and I say success inspires and motivates me. I want people to enjoy their experience when they come to my restaurant and maintaining that level of wonder and excitement from my patron drives me.
Q - Is there a food/ ingredient that you hate? Do you have a favourite ingredient?
A - I don’t hate any ingredient. I will try anything. Instead, you could say I am bored by anything too commonplace. As for my favourite: brains! Not to cook with them but you need people with brains. Then you can use anything and make it special.
Q – What would you consider a childhood comfort food?
A - I am partial to Chinese comfort foods like soups and congee.
Q - What's your most memorable meal? And where?
A - It’s hard to pick just one but eating in Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in 2002 was memorable. That was my first 3 Michelin star meal.
Q - Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?
A - Yes, but I wish I knew what it is.
Q - What is your favourite dish at Bo Innovation, which you enjoy cooking personally?
A - Every new dish I invent then becomes my favourite dish. But if customers don’t enjoy it, I will quickly disown it. I’m not sentimental that way.
Q - Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
A - KFC and McDonalds. Both are very consistent.
Q - 9. Is there another chef that you most admire?
A - There are three I regularly cite. Alain Ducasse for his brains, Joel Robuchon for his heart, and Ferran Adria for his courage.
Q - Are there any new developments at the restaurant for December?
A - Well, the most substantial thing we did this year is we moved Bo Innovation down the road to a much larger and more impressive space in the J Senses complex. We also officially changed our name to Bo Innovation: The Hong Kong Story to reflect what we try to achieve, capture the spirit and character of Hong Kong in our cuisine. The entire décor reflects that. I hired last-of-a generation master craftsmen to do utensils and plates, and Hong Kong’s leading design firm AB Concepts to create the décor. We’ve also created some new offerings and it’s taken Bo Innovation to a whole new level.