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The first thing Andrew Wong will admit is that he never wanted to be a chef, at least when he was growing up. The odd thing was that he was never put under any pressure to be a chef either, his parents never encouraged him, never even wanted him to be a chef. When asked ‘how would your father feel about your success if he were still alive?’ Wong responded, ‘He would have been proud of my achievement, but not how I got here.’ Wong admits that for a long time at the beginning of his career, his mother would tell friends of hers that he was still ‘thinking about law school’, not that she was overly ashamed of his choice at the time, but it did take some getting used to. When Wong was growing up, working in the kitchen that his parents ran was used as a less-favourable alternative to doing homework. One thing that is clear, though, is that Wong was raised with the appetite for hard work and achieving success, he has just channelled this into cookery, rather than law or chemistry.
Andrew Wong became fascinated with the connection between cookery and culture in the wake of his father’s death. He’d dropped out of Oxford and started social anthropology at LSE, which provided the intellectual materials to make connections between the food his parents served and the culture they were from. His mother was of a Hong-Kong, Cantonese background, while his father was of a Sichuanese background. Wong realised that as so much of British Chinese restaurants served only Cantonese food – with a small, growing number of Sichuanese – there was a lack of understanding in the country for the sheer breadth of Chinese cuisine, something he recognised as a gap in the market that could be filled.
The result of this realisation was the re-inception of his parents’ restaurant, previously named Kym, into A. Wong (after his parents, not himself). After a six-month period of travelling China, learning regional cuisines, and twisting chef’s arms to learn their secrets, Wong returned to embark on the six-year process of transforming the restaurant. In 2012 the restaurant was reopened, five years later it was awarded its first Michelin star, four years later it achieved the second. A. Wong offers an education into Chinese cuisine as much as an experience, the meals are to be shared and the service staff will provide information on the regions, explain flavour pairings, and provide general context.
In 2018, Wong opened Kym's, a meat roasting restaurant named after his parent’s original Kym restaurant (of which he renamed). Unfortunately, the restaurant shut down in 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite its successes.