Cooking is something that has always inspired Sammy Kwok, and while it might sound cliché, he’s had a burning lifelong passion for experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious dishes. Indeed, he began to discover his passion and talent for cooking at the age of fourteen, and this would set him on a path to grow and heighten his skills looking to the future.
Born and raised in the busy metropolis environment of Hong Kong, his unique flavour combinations, mastery of Shanghai dishes, and unrivalled expertise have allowed him the opportunity to follow a bright path in the hospitality and catering industry.
Sammy Kwok’s incredible skills wouldn’t go unnoticed for long, and even before the age of eighteen, he had already found his calling in life by becoming a Chef at the much-loved Hotel Lisboa Macau. His interest in sharing new recipes and ideas would help propel him to new heights while getting his name out as one of the hottest up-and-coming chefs in the industry.
Just two years after landing his first official chef position at the Hotel, Sammy’s career would take a further leap toward new heights when he joined the Tai Fok restaurant in De Sao Paulo, Macao. This excellent restaurant brought him on as the manager of the entire restaurant, an opportunity that allowed Sammy to develop numerous new skills such as leadership, public speaking and media management, and the like. This experience has contributed to his broad range of skills in the present day, making him one of the most versatile chefs around who can turn his attention to anything.
Sammy’s career was booming, but in 1993, he decided to make a change and give himself a new start. This would result in him immigrating to the US, where no one knew of his history; however, as with any diamond in the rough, it wasn’t long before his skills were soon picked up on again.
As such, he worked for the renowned Au Mandarin close by to the World Financial Centre for a time. Alas, this would end in tragedy, with the 9/11 terrorist attacks resulting in massive disruption to all local businesses, and Au Mandarin was forced to close.
Following the closure of Au Mandarin, Sammy decided to pursue a different direction with his career. He began working for Prime Food instead, a supplier of high-quality frozen Chinese ready meals to supermarkets. Though it was far from his true calling as a professional chef, this amazing opportunity gave Sammy insight into a side of the food industry he’d never seen before.
Au Mandarin would eventually reopen following the recovery period after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, shaken and unsure, Sammy found himself declining the offer of his previous position. This would turn out to be the start of something great when his wife suggested that they buy a Shanghainese restaurant instead; with Sammy’s expertise in Shanghai dishes and cooking, it seemed a no-brainer.
As such, their first store opened in 2008 at 14A Elizabeth Street, New York. This would be the moment that Sammy’s entire career had led up to! Originally, Sammy left the restaurant as it had been prior – but slowly, over time, he began to transform the look of the original restaurant, and with it, the brand’s fates reversed, and it became a booming hub for Shanghai dining.
This success would allow Sammy to branch out into opening numerous additional restaurants – and finally, with the Covid-19 pandemic now coming to a close, he’s finally found a dream opportunity. In partnership with Steam, he’s starting to create delightful fusion dishes, blending his two favourite cooking styles – Shanghainese and Hong Kong recipes – to share his love of authentic cooking with the world.
Cooking with love is what Sammy stands for – and he hopes to inspire a new generation of chefs going forward.