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PEOPLE

Discovering secret talents in Quarry Bay

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The Quarry Bay and Taikoo communities are full of talented people. From singer-songwriters and art enthusiasts to home cooks and amateur mixologists, many individuals harbour hobbyist passions that they are keen to share when given the right opportunity. We spoke to a few people who discovered their own hidden talent and recently took advantage of public programmes to hone their skills.

For Sandra Chow, cooking was always a family affair. Her father’s culinary expertise first sparked her interest in food. “I’ve enjoyed making desserts since I was a kid,” says Chow. “I remember my signature dessert was coconut milk pudding.” And now she has passed on her passion for cooking to her daughter, eight-year-old Alison.

Cooking has become an opportunity for mother and daughter to get quality bonding time. “It’s a joyful and relaxing time, especially when we cook a dish that my daughter, Alison, likes. We discuss and chat during cooking. I feel that I learn something more every time, and it’s a time that she loves to share things with me,” Chow says.

She also finds cooking to be a great way to unwind and focus the mind. “When I cook, I feel like I am creating a painting. It is like therapy to me, especially when I am stressed at work,” says Chow, who owns a shop in Taikoo Shing. “I love to learn new dishes and ingredients. I feel so excited when I see new and challenging recipes.”

Recently, mother and daughter participated in a Christmas-themed cook-off -- and won. Chow says she was motivated to join the programme because Christmas is her family’s favourite festival, and for the event, the two created potato croquettes with bacon and onion, accompanied by cranberry sauce that incorporates orange juice and zest. “I love to make mashed potatoes at Christmas, especially because it is a dish that I can get my kids involved with,” she says. “For this competition, I decided to add a twist to it, and mixed in some of my kids’ favourite ingredients and deep-fried them with breadcrumbs.”

The duo’s winning recipe will be featured on the Christmas menu at EAST, Hong Kong. “Now that we’ve won the competition, Alison has been hyped for weeks and feels proud to call herself a junior master chef.”

Another pair, Jennifer Loong and Jade Kwan, used to spend a lot of time working on events together in their previous jobs. They eventually both changed companies, but the friends stayed in touch, and recently they decided to experiment with mixology together in their spare time to create new cocktails. Loong says she especially likes the freedom involved in mixology. “What I like most was that there is no fixed formula,” she says. “You can freely mix the drinks according to your own taste.”

The pair recently took part a mixology workshop held at Plaza Mayor restaurant in the Starstreet Precinct. They got to collaborate with the local restaurant and create Christmas-themed cocktails and mocktails. Their cocktails is a pair of festive red and white wine sangrias. “I made sangria with white wine while Jade used red wine,” says Loong. “We named them Sangria Blanca and Sangria Navidad, which means ‘white Christmas’ in Spanish.”

They decided to participate because of their fondness for the neighbourhood. “Jade and I used to work on Starstreet events together. Therefore, the place has a special meaning to us,” says Loong. They particularly enjoyed getting to know the local restaurant owners. “It was fun because we got to learn about mixology by casually chatting with the owner of Plaza Mayor, who is Spanish. He spoke with us about Spanish drinking culture. That was the best bit. And of course, getting to drink the sangria that we made ourselves felt great.”

Both pairs participated in workshops as part of Swire Properties’ Hometown Heroes community-building initiative, and they will showcase their culinary and cocktail creations at the company’s annual White Christmas Street Fair in Star Street, Admiralty (23-25 Nov) and Tong Chong Street, Quarry Bay (29 Nov-1 Dec), with proceeds going to the charity group, Operation Santa Claus.

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