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Where does Welly’s foodie population find top-notch Asian food? From katsu perfection perfectly packaged in a bento box and a variety of baby baos to your classic KFC (Korean Fried Chicken that is) … Looking for a new hot spot with traditional flavours that hit your spicy sweet spot? Hot Sauce is your answer.
We’ve given you plenty of reasons to hang out, with Happy Cat Hour for your post-work debriefs, and Beats & Bao every Sunday, but we’ll give you another … Because we’re generous.
Come and chill out with the culinary talent that is Hot Sauce’s new Head Chef, Mark Hsiong. Heading the helm in the Hot Sauce kitchen, we’re reaping the rewards for Mark’s journey from Singapore. As a busy man in a busy kitchen, we did a quick-fire Q&A with the person that feeds us.
G’day Mark, give us Hot Sauce in three words?
Inventive. Playful. Nostalgic.
Did you go straight from school to the kitchen?
Nope, school to the military. Back in Singapore, it’s mandatory. After three months basic training, I was sent to the School of Transport to become a military driver. Within 18 months of service, holding the rank of a corporal, I was in charge of training new drivers that got posted to my unit – a little different to the pressure of the kitchen. My job as corporal was to ensure that drivers were competent enough do their duties, such as the base’s Security Troopers and Quick Response Force to ambulance duties, within the unit.
What skills did you pick up here that was a Godsend as a chef?
Leadership, responsibility and working under pressure.
So how did you start making delicious things professionally?
I started my career in Ottawa, Canada for a golf club called Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club. This was a super busy club, that hosted the 2008 LPGA Canadian Open, we served 7500 meals a day, for eight days straight!
After Ottawa, I moved back to Singapore whereby I was a stagiere (unpaid intern) for a Relais et Chateau Grand Chef.
Intimidating man, do you prefer to cook for professionals that make you sweat?
Mmm, no. I love to cook for any one of my friends and family. With friends and family comes honesty … I can experiment with new ideas with them and they’ll give you an honest opinion – they don’t ever hold back!
Close friend are ruthless, I hear ya. Are you used to working in the Hotel industry?
Yeah, I spent time working in a 5-star resort, now known as the Sofitel Resort and Spa, where I was involved in the Hotel’s Spanish Gala Night at the World Gourmet Summit 2009 and worked with Spanish chefs like Sergi Arola (2 Michelin Stars), Alfonso Castellano and David Munoz. I’ve done a stint in Maine, USA and worked for a classical boutique hotel called Hartstone Inn and Hideaway (AAA 4 Diamond Rated).
Ooh la la, fancy man. Quite an impressive CV, what advice would you offer a young Kiwi chef looking to make a start in the industry?
The stronger your foundation, the taller a structure you can build.
The most famous person you’ve made food for?
I worked in a Top 10 Italian Restaurant in Singapore, Zambuca Italian Restaurant and Bar. In that time I cooked for the Prince of Holland, now King of the Netherlands and Mark Webber (twice). The head chef did not interfere with my cooking at all.
Well, if you can satisfy the palette of a Prince, turned King … What do you draw from when menu planning?
I draw from my memories as a child growing up in Singapore, from my travels to various countries and most importantly, my experiences as a chef. I also draw from the strengths of my team.
We’re stoked you’ve found a home at Hot Sauce, what’s the most exciting new trend in Wellington hospitality at the moment?
Casual dining combined with traditional cuisine made contemporary. It’s great to see chefs from fine dining backgrounds opening up or running kitchens in casual establishments, drawing inspiration from their classical training and heritage.
interviewed by chris lee
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