GBA Lifestyle News
City Living Section
By Gayatri Bhaumik | May 14th, 2019

Angie Ford recently moved back to Hong Kong to take the helm at Buenos Aires Polo Club, the sophisticated steakhouse in Lan Kwai Fong by Black Sheep Restaurants. We spoke to Angie about quality meats, great steaks, and her appearance on Top Chef Canada.

How did you get into food and cooking?

At 11 years old, I started working a little at my aunt’s catering company, peeling potatoes, washing dishes and clearing tables. I think that’s when my interest in the industry first sparked. From there, I started working in restaurants and never looked back. I went from receptionist to bartender, from manager, event coordinator and cleaner to pastry chef, and finally, chef. I found fulfilment working in every area, but I was drawn more to the back-of-house jobs.

What do you think are the most important attributes for a chef?

Leading by example, being a pillar of strength and positivity, and staying humble. And I always say, “A chef must think like a scientist, organize like an accountant, inspire and motivate like a warrior, move like a track star, plate like an artist and cook like a grandma”.

You’ve worked with a number of big names in the culinary world. What did you pick up from them?

Besides gaining culinary skills, techniques and ideas in food, I fed off their passion and commitment to always strive for perfection. I admire how much they put into creating just one dish, and I have carried that with me.

You grew up and began your career in Ottowa (Canada). How has this influenced the way you cook?

Growing up in Ottawa, I became interested in nose-to-tail butchery as it was becoming more common. Canada tends to pull from the international culinary community, so I always had a yearning to immerse myself in different cuisines – the possibilities for learning are endless.

Before Hong Kong, you were in Sydney to work alongside Stanley Wong at Eastside Kitchen & Bar. Why was this important for you?

It was an excellent opportunity for me as I was working alongside such a talented chef and learned so much from him. Opening a new restaurant is always quite an accomplishment, and I felt so lucky to be part of the team.

Australia is known for its incredible meat. What did you learn about butchery and meat from your time in Sydney?

I was lucky to work closely with some forward-thinking farmers. I travelled to a wagyu farm and helped in the process of breaking down the cow before we brought it back to the restaurant. I am absolutely in awe of how these animals are treated; it’s essential to me to use ethically raised animals. They treat them like royalty. They are free to roam in the greenest pastures, there’s music playing for them, and even massages!

During my time in Sydney, I got into curing my own meat. I made prosciutto, bacon and other charcuterie, and also taught myself how to age meat. I had a beautiful bourbon-aged wagyu I showcased exclusively for our monthly Chef’s Table series. It was a two-month process, but so worth it.

What makes a good cut of meat?

Using high-end beef from a reputable farmer and knowing where they source it from.

What’s your favorite cut of beef to work with?

I love all of them in different ways! But when pressed, I’m a ribeye kind of girl.

What are a few things people should know before ordering a steak at a restaurant?

I would say you should know which cut suits your taste best – say, if you prefer less fat content, or a tender cut. Also cooking temperatures should vary depending on the cut of beef. I order a ribeye medium as I want the fat to melt into the beef for extra flavor and I want it charred. If I order a tenderloin, with barely any fat, I’m going to ask for it medium-rare.

You jumped at the opportunity to appear on Iron Chef Canada as René Rodriguez’s sous chef. Why?

I was working in Sydney at the time. When I got the call from chef René, I said ‘yes’ with no hesitation. It was an absolute honor that he wanted me to fly halfway across the world to battle with him. I could only get three days off work, so I hopped on a 17-hour direct flight, stayed for three days, then flew back. I admire chef René, and this was a rare opportunity to test my skills in a high-stakes competition.

What was your favorite part of being on Iron Chef Canada?

Working with chef René and chef Raz. I hadn’t worked with them in years, so it felt amazing to be reunited. It was crazy how we still danced around each other in the kitchen as if we had never stopped working together! We battled extremely hard and at some points thought we might not finish all the components for a dish, but we communicated so well and made it happen.

What were the biggest challenges of being on Iron Chef Canada?

I couldn’t find ingredients and equipment, and we ran out of almost everything. Time management is the biggest challenge — to create and prepare five dishes in one hour, you have to be watching the clock. You can’t make mistakes. For instance, I was in charge of making pannacotta for the dessert. If I hadn’t got it right the first time, there’s no way I could have made and set a new one in time.

Would you do another TV show?

I would love to! It was a fantastic challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed the intensity.

You’ve recently taken over at Buenos Aires Polo Club. What do you hope to achieve here?

I’m hoping to achieve great things! My expertise is in steakhouse dining and I intend to use my knowledge to continue Buenos Aires Polo Club’s legacy as one of the best places to go for steak in Hong Kong.

What do you hope that guests take away from their experience at Buenos Aires Polo Club?

I hope they have an unforgettable experience at Buenos Aires Polo Club, from the starters to the aged meat, sauces, sides and everything in between. I hope they get to try something new and will come back whenever they have a craving for a true steakhouse experience.

Could you tell us a little about the changes to the menu you’ll be introducing at Buenos Aires Polo Club?

The focus of the menu is on product and produce, and what I am most excited about is to be able to work with our specially-imported General Pico Black Angus beef. This type of meat is new to me and I have to say that I am truly impressed by its quality, texture and flavor. The traditional parilla grill in the Buenos Aires Polo Club kitchen is also a beauty. Inspired by all this, I have introduced a new lunch menu focusing on the classics you can expect from an Argentine steakhouse.

What’s next for you?

For the next step, I will be focusing on working with my team at Buenos Aires Polo Club, upholding the standards and level of cuisine at any Black Sheep Restaurant. There is immense support and high expectations from the co-founders Chris and Asim, and I truly believe that we are growing into the best steakhouse team in the city.

Dishin’ the Dirt profile.