Today I have an interview with Hong Kong-based food blogger and journalist. Jocelyn Wong.
She writes at the aptly named http://jocelynwrites.com, do check it out for some delicious posts…
When did you first decide that being a writer was for you?
I pretty much got the bug after winning my first writing competition that I entered for fun because I liked the topic. It was something along the lines of Hair Disasters. I shared my experience of getting a bad haircut which ended in tears and getting the back of my head shaved. After that I entered an SCMP writing competition and won. The next step that really solidified my passion for writing was getting a two-week internship with Young Post which got extended to the end of the summer. Afterwards, I got hired as a freelancer for them and everything else is history.
Do you find being a journalist to be rewarding work?
Absolutely. Working for Young Post is one of the most inspiring experiences for me. Getting to work so closely with the talented youth in Hong Kong and being a part of their lives — helping them improve their English bit by bit, day by day.
Are you inspired by any writers, Hong Kong-based or otherwise?
There are some pretty big names out there that I’m inspired by but for now my aspirations lie in tangent with those of Jason Ng – the SCMP columnist who wrote the best-selling Hong Kong State of Mind and Pete Spurrier – who owns Blacksmith Books. Someday I want to have my own publishing house and discover new writing talent.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Ray Hecht would like to note that his forthcoming novel South China Morning Blues will be published by Blacksmith Books)
Being that you have a food-based blog, are you interested in cooking as well as being a foodie?
I have always been interested in baking — so it’s more likely that I’ll end up as a pastry chef rather than a cook. I love just working up a storm in the kitchen with the blender, mixer and flour. Copious amounts of flour and brown sugar decorate the kitchen floor by the time I’m done baking some treat or another; also, I just love the smell that fills up my apartment after I’m done baking. The smell of molten chocolate is absolutely heavenly.
That being said, I do love getting my hands dirty in the kitchen. Instead of making ramen noodles in college, I remember spending the bulk of my free time googling recipes of healthy food, because I couldn’t bear to gain that “freshmen fifteen” if I could help it.
Now that I’m back in Hong Kong, I’ve really enjoyed having a full kitchen with proper counter space and international ingredients and spices to work with. Back in my college days, I’d have to do prep in my living room because my kitchen was so small. I think I whip up some pretty good scallop medallions, and I devised my own perfect pesto sauce in my college days.
What kind of food did you grow up eating?
I was lucky enough to grow up in a multicultural environment and my parents are foodies as well. Even at home, my mother would try to cook as many different types of cuisine as possible, even if most of it was Chinese. China has a diverse food culture and I feel like I really got to know it as I grew up (since at one point, my father couldn’t bear the thought of not having at least three Chinese meals a week. This is how my mother got creative – by having those restraints).
In terms of eating out, we were regulars at the now defunct Japanese restaurant in the old Ritz Carlton in Central, Tenjaku in Lantern St, as well as Brasserie on the Eighth, Ming Yuen in Parkview and the McDonalds by Repulse Bay just to name a few. I still maintain that Hong Kong has the best McD’s in the world.
When I went to university, that’s when I got serious about cooking. I was also really conscious about staying healthy. That being said, I had my fair share of 2 a.m. pizzas and Timmy’s (surely you’ve heard of our famous Canadian Tim Horton’s doughnuts), but generally I’d say I kept a healthy diet. Within months of settling into college, I really quickly learned how to make healthy and delicious foods like grilled ahi tuna with green and white peppercorns, turkey burgers and bake gluten free cookies (that don’t taste like cardboard).
Do you enjoy the Hong Kong restaurant scene because of authentic Cantonese cuisine, or because of the diverse international range of tastes in the city?
I love it for both the authentic Cantonese food and the diverse international range of tastes in the city. I don’t know if I’ve traveled anywhere else with such an amazing food culture. At just about any street corner, you’ll be able to find great cha chaan tengs with amazing Hong Kong style french toast (like pizza, it’s very hard to go wrong with this dish) or a small, hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant with a delicate platter of steamed Clams in white wine, garlic, and butter. Perfection.
Where you ever surprised by which blog gained the most popularity?
I knew I would get a following on my music blog because of my radio show in Canada. What kind of shocked me was that there was a following for my food blog, because I never did much in terms of social media for it so people literally had to stumble upon it and like my style of writing for it to happen. I still find it strange though that most my readers are from the U.S. and Yugoslavia — since my blogs don’t feature much that I feel will entice audiences over there. But nonetheless I am pleasantly surprised.
You have at least one blog post reviewing a restaurant in Ottawa, Canada. Are you interested in being a travel writer as well? Can we expect any new locations for upcoming posts?
I am definitely interested. Each time I go somewhere new, I definitely have my camera by my side to snap a few shots. However, I don’t see myself travelling much in the near future. Although I am going to be in Toronto for a few days in August, so stay tuned!
Finally, the author of this interview happens to be a vegetarian. Would you recommend any meatless restaurants for my readers?
Lok Cha teahouse is fantastic and Choice does the most amazing gluten free bread and smoothies in town.