The Japanese brand ANAORI, a leader in manufacturing carbon graphite products, has developed a groundbreaking cooking tool that combines new technologies and natural materials into a unique design. In the coming months, some of the greatest culinary minds from around the world will apply their expertise to showcase the potential of ANAORI kakugama at their restaurant as part of the Naturality tour by ANAORI.
One of the first stops of the tour was at Victor Liong’s Lee Ho Fook in Melbourne, Australia.
Victor Liong arrived in Australia from Brunei at age six and grew up immersed in the multicultural energy of Sydney. He’s an alumnus of the kitchens at Galileo and Mr Wong, and his time at the acclaimed Marque restaurant remains a significant influence on his approach to this day. In 2013 Victor opened his first restaurant, Lee Ho Fook, in Melbourne. Originally located in Collingwood, Lee Ho Fook rapidly grew in popularity and in 2015 moved to a larger site on Duckboard Place in the CBD, where its loyal following enjoys Victor’s unique and creative new-style Chinese dishes.
He’s also the co-chef, along with Chase Kojima, at Chuuka, a restaurant in Sydney that brings together the flavours and techniques of China and Japan.
In 2021, Lee Ho Fook open at Marvel Stadium, in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct, adding to the fabric of arena dining, focusing on large format, family-friendly Chinese Australian classic dishes.
How did it go for you, Victor? Do you like the Anaori kakugama?
The kakugama is great, a versatile piece of cookware that performs really well in a commercial setting and home setting, well designed and beautiful.
What was your first reaction when you saw the kakugama?
I really liked the minimalist aesthetics and the thoughtful design, with a nice mix of cutting edge futuristic elements and traditional stylish touches.
How was your journey with it?
The journey with this piece was great, it behaved exactly like I have imagined it. I have used it to cook at home and at work, the performance is versatile and the cooking degree very accurate, I’ve braised, slow cooked, steamed and grilled with the cookware, and it’s been a stylish and dynamic addition to the kitchen.
What do you love best about it and what was the greatest challenge?
I love how it looks and how it’s easy to clean! The greatest challenge in a commercial kitchen setting is the size. It would be easier if it was bigger, but when you find your ways to work with it, it’s cool. At home, the size is not an issue.
Tell us about the dish you created with it and served to the media.
With a piece of cookware like this where the heating is so consistent and the conductivity so responsive, the immediate thing that came to mind that I should cook is rice. Cooking rice with the absorption method perfectly takes a lot of practice and know how, in terms of the moisture of the rice and the seasonal nature of humidity, and the variables of standard cookware. Using the Anaori, this eliminates the variables in the cookware, so it creates a very consistent and excellent result.
At Lee Ho Fook, we have a signature crab meat and scallop fried rice, I’ve adapted the recipe to be more a ‘claypot’ rice but utilising the Anaori to create an amazing result with the rice, cooked with the infusion of our signature house made XO sauce, rich with the umami flavours of dried scallop and prawns. As we enter Autumn here in Melbourne, it’s a truly stunning dish to showcase the performance of the Anaori.
What difference did it make using kakugama for it?
With the Anaori, the precision and dependability of the design, cut from a single piece of carbon graphite and the consistent convention heating and responsive conductivity allows to create the right amount of steam pressure and heat distribution to help create an amazing result with amazing steam and heat retention capabilities. This may seem insignificant, but as a chef of Chinese heritage where every meal is centred around rice, the Anaori allows each meal to have the perfect bowl of rice every single time, which makes mealtimes an absolutely ethereal experience.
As we are living in challenging times defined with pandemics, do you have any message for the chefs around the world who are going through lockdowns and other issues?
We are all going through a tough time around the world, as a chef that is privileged to be part of the global hospitality community still working and in a position to create a message and influence change. We have all discussed and hoped for an opportunity to change something – be it in our own kitchens, our businesses, our communities, our industry locally and as a whole.
Take this time of adversity and flux to implement what you’ve always thought you needed to do. If it means working less, do that. If it means cooking for focused and supporting causes closest to you and your philosophy do that. If it means looking at a model that is more sustainable – environmental, staff morale, mental health, wage fairness and equality in the work space, or even more time for yourself to be healthier so you can do more and have more, do that.
If we don’t all change and do better then we will regress to the same issues we get on the global stage to discuss and debate about, but there will be a wasted opportunity in our immediate future to really do something about.