Christopher Ho – aka Ho La Ho Sik on Instagram – is a self-taught chef who has devoted much of his time to melding local flavours and techniques with Western cooking. The now-acclaimed chef initially learned to cook through online tutorials from celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, and now hosts his own private kitchen and occasionally runs pop-ups that book out very quickly, while his dedication to reducing food waste and carbon footprint in the kitchen is a testament to the future of sustainable dining. We chat with Ho, who's also the son of Asia's empress of fashion Joyce Ma, on his top tool recommendations for home kitchens.
1) Chef Knife
Starting the most obvious on the list, it’s the single piece of equipment that any professional chef or budding home chef should first invest in. Most professionals use a 240mm long blade, but for home chefs, I suggest either 180mm or 210mm depending on the size of your work surface at home. Never go for form over function; it may be tempting to get the more extravagant and lavish blue/white steel knives (which rust easily), but if you’re not used to maintaining then I’d go for a VG10 or SG2 stainless steel gyuto.
I personally use a Nenohi 240mm gyuto, but I’d equally recommend those from Yu Kurosaki or even Sakai Takayuki. More importantly, be sure to try blades on hand before buying to get a feel of how it weighs on your wrist; it’s supposed to become an extension of you in the kitchen after all!
2) Offset Chef’s Tweezers
If you’re used to handling chopsticks then you would know the extra level of control that having two individually manoeuvred points have over other utensils such as forks; tweezers are similar in function but with even greater finesse due to their highly tapered points. If you’ve begun to try plating individual dishes this tool is a must-have, it truly makes handling micro herbs, flowers and other tiny components much easier! For tweezers, brands truly don’t matter as the form and function are almost identical; at this point just choose the length and colour that suits you best!
It may look like a smaller, horizontal grater but that’s because that is exactly what it is. Horizontal comes with a lot of benefits, it’s actually much easier to grate especially with its sharper stainless steel grates while the smaller grates give a more fine finished product. Whether it’s cheese or garlic for your next pasta or lemon zest for your next dessert; the Microplane will definitely simplify and elevate your next cooking experience. Microplane actually has an assortment of different graters and zesters; I’d go for their classic Microplane zesters as it’s the perfect balance between efficiency and portability.
4) Recipe Folder/Book
The biggest leap for a home chef is when you transition from following others’ recipes to creating your own. This may come via smaller steps such as first adapting others' recipes to accommodate your own tastes or what you have available, but regardless it’s vitally important to keep track of your creations! I personally like to type up my recipes, they’re always a work in progress and so it’s much easier to edit and update them as I go!
5) Positive Mindset and Creativity!
The most important tool is your mind! When you finally start creating your own dishes, don’t be afraid to experiment, and even more crucially don’t be afraid of failure. Very seldom do dishes come out the way you want the first time; just adapt and try again, and learn to trust your own palate. Have faith that if you’re proud of the completed dish, your guests will be equally impressed too!
All images courtesy of Christopher Ho / Ho La Ho Sik.