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Chef Of The Month - Lexine Hepworth

Chef Of The Month - Lexine Hepworth

Lexine Hepworth


About Lexine Hepworth

Having grown up in my parents’ hotel in Northwest England, I have always been in and out of the kitchen. I moved to France at 16 to pursue fantastic training at Lycée Hôtelier Quercy-Perigord. After college, I worked two years under chef Alain Roux at 3 Michelin-starred ‘The Waterside Inn – Bray’ before taking a step into luxury catering and private events. In 2018, I got the call to move to HK as Chef de Cuisine of HKJC and I’ve never looked back!

Brief introduction of ‘The Taste Lab’

Now running Classic Fine Foods ‘The Taste Lab’ in Wan Chai, I’m excited to be bringing together all my past experiences to create a fun, dynamic environment. 

Where does your cooking inspiration come from?

I grew up travelling to France with my family every summer in our motorhome. Camping, eating, and drinking our way through the best France had to offer! This shows in my food. I love the different regions of France and the diversity of products. My Father is a fantastic cook and knows how to pack things full of flavour. My inspiration has come from here, and my grandfather before him.

What is your first memory in a kitchen?

I remember peering over the kitchen counter on my tip-toes, barely big enough to see, as my dad made a fish pie. ‘Careful of the bechamel, its hot and it sticks!’. Sundays were family day and a Sunday roast was always on the menu. Cooking together on Sundays is my first childhood memory and I always wanted to be involved. 

Your specialty dishes?

I won the national Jean Rougie foie gras and truffle award in France in 2011. 

Foie gras is a deep-rooted passion of mine. My winning dish comprises sauteed pineapple with vanilla oil and truffle brunoise, pan-seared foie gras, ginger crumble, and a soy-honey-sesame glaze. This combination of sweet, spiced, and salty gives off an intense aroma. 

What is your favourite thing to do when not cooking?

Eating and drinking with friends; whether that’s discovering new bars or cooking something tasty at home. Then a long walk from Causeway Bay to K-town in the sunshine with my music blasting to compensate for all the eating and drinking!

Where is your most favourite city and why?

BARCELONA! Not only is it a stunning city full of life, architecture, and things to do, but its food culture is a dream. I’m a sucker for some good tapas and a glass of red wine in the sunshine.

Your greatest indulgence?

My special ‘Anchovy Toast’. Tinned salty anchovies blended into president butter with fresh lemon zest/juice, chili flakes, and green Tobasco. Spread on melba toast or Spanish crystal bread. Some juicy Boquerones on top and Guindillas green peppers and you got yourself a real treat! 

A treat that reminds you of your childhood?

This might sound ridiculous, but I remember asking for a star fruit (carambola) for my 7th birthday, don’t ask me why! I used to love it but it wasn’t always available, so it was such a treat whenever I saw one. 

If you could bring 3 ingredients to a desert island, what would they be?

It’s pretty simple to keep me happy. Maldon salt, some good extra virgin olive oil, and maybe some Tabasco. These can make anything a decent meal.

What is your favourite unusual flavour pairing/mix and match?

This is more of a dirty little secret… promise not to tell? I put soy sauce mixed with mayonnaise everywhere that I can. On fries, to dip my pizza crust, even with beef tartare. It’s salty, naughty goodness. 

What would make you really angry at work?

People being inconsiderate. I think I often expect the same from others as how I behave, and that’s not always what you get. I’m extremely compassionate, so when I see people disregard or disrespect others it really gets under my skin.

It could be something as simple as a cook not taking the ripped clingfilm off a tray before taking it to the pot wash… drives me bonkers!

What is your most favourite thing about your career?

I’m going to say the people. Having worked in such different environments and cultures, I’ve really enjoyed the teams along the way. Each kitchen has its highs and lows and I love the diversity of it. The laughter, the tears, it’s all part of being in a tiny space with the same people day in and day out through good and bad. I’m a people person, Momma bear, and taking care of and inspiring my team is what brings me a sense of accomplishment.

What is your advice to young chefs who have just started their career in the culinary field?

Watch everything. See everything. Ask questions.
I’ve been through every level of cooking… 3 Michelin-star kitchens, my dad’s pizzeria, all levels of catering big and small. Any experience is good experience, even the bad stuff because you learn what to do, and not do, in the future. 

Tough boss? Great, you will learn to not behave that way. Got to a catering event and someone has dropped the oven off the van? Alright, guess I’m cooking 60 steaks on one hot ring. It’s all things that will build you into an agile, strong, confident chef. 


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