Meet Nick Chan, the Head Chef at Yardbird. He’s the leader of the yakitori pack at the restaurant, cranking out orders and making sure everything in the kitchen is running smoothly. Although his demeanor during service is serious and efficient and he’s known for his strong work ethic, Nick is really a jokester at heart. Get to know more about Nick, or Garlic as we call him, his background, and his favorite food spots in Hong Kong below.
What is your role at Yardbird and how long have you been with the company?
I’m the Head Chef at Yardbird. I’ve been with the company since day one. I was part of the opening team, so I’ve worked with the company for six years.
Where are you from?
Kowloon, Hong Kong
What path led you to become a chef?
I went to culinary school at HITDC, studying CCTI. During this time, I worked part-time in different kitchens – a sushi shop and also a Korean restaurant in a food court.
Where else have you previously worked?
Some French restaurants. Le Blanc in Wanchai a long time ago, Cococabana, Sous chef at Le Boat, and finally Zuma where I worked for three and a half years. That’s where I met Matt.
What do you love about the work you do?
Ever since I was young I really liked to cook. My mom cooks really good food, so as I learned from her I wanted to become a Chef.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Long work hours make it hard to see family.
How do you stay healthy and find balance while working long hours and nights?
I try to sleep early. I also always see a Chinese doctor for health maintenance.
What’s your favorite dish at Yardbird?
Chicken neck yakitori.
What is your favorite thing to cook and why?
Western food – pasta, because it’s fast and easy.
What are your favorite spots to eat in Hong Kong?
There’s 和味菜館 in Yau Ma Tei that does a really good charcoal hot pot, but honestly my favorite food is anything my mom cooks.
The best place you’ve traveled to and what did you eat?
New York and Eleven Madison Park. There was good service, good food, every dish was innovative and surprising. It was really interesting to eat through the menu but not be able to pin point how each dish was made.
If you weren’t working in Food & Beverage, what would you be doing?
Probably working at my dad’s travel agency.
What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
Hang out with my wife and take her to dinner and a movie.
How fast can you butcher a chicken?
About 3 minutes.
Besides yakitori, what is your favorite chicken dish?
Fried chicken – it’s juicy and crunchy.