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By Gayatri Bhaumik | April 27th, 2021

Fresh off an acclaimed stint at The St. Regis Hong Kong, French-trained chef Vincent Leroux recently joined healthy meal-delivery service Eatology as Culinary Director. Using his fine-dining technique and fresh, organic ingredients, Leroux is redefining what healthy meals mean.

Leroux has trained at the highest level from the beginning. He began training in the kitchens of the Michelin-starred Rosewood Hotel Le Crillon and Restaurant Les Ambassadeurs in Paris before making his way through other acclaimed restaurants in Geneva, Switzerland, the Caribbean, Madagascar, and even Saudi Arabia. He arrived in Hong Kong in 2014 as the Director and Master Teacher of the Institut Culinaire Disciples Escoffier. Now, he’s turning his two decades of experience to creating delicious, nutritious meals for the health-conscious.

How did you get into food and cooking?

From a young age, I loved being in the kitchen and watching my mother cook. My grandmother was also a huge influence on me—she gave me the passion to learn how to cook. She took a lot of pride in creating fresh dishes that tasted great and were good for us.

What training did you do to become a chef?

I did a diploma and Master’s degree in culinary arts. I also had many on-the-job training experiences at different hotels and restaurants over at least 15 years before “pretending” to become a chef. I say pretending because it’s a never-ending journey! Each day, I learn something new and there’s always more to try. Whether it’s working with a new ingredient, recipe, technique, or cuisine, there’s always more to experience. In many ways I feel like I’m still becoming a chef – it’s never boring!

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

To be a team leader and never give up. You also have to have respect for your team, your customers, your suppliers, the ingredients, and the cooking process. You have to be able to approach every step with quality and integrity in mind, from picking the best ingredients to testing and creating the recipe, and finally, in how you present and serve the dish.

What makes a good dish?

Textures, flavor, and balance. Freshness and good nutrition also elevate good dishes into great ones – they make a dish that much more rewarding to cook and to eat.

What influences your cooking style?

My different experiences overseas. I started my career cooking in establishments across France and Switzerland and then became an Executive Chef at a restaurant in the Caribbean, a five-star hotel in Saudi Arabia, and at a lodge in Madagascar – a place where I also grew my own vegetable and herb garden! These experiences and the knowledge they helped me accumulate have informed my cooking style, which has continued to evolve since I moved to Hong Kong in 2014. Of course, the city and its local ingredients inspire and influence me, too!

What is your process for creating a dish?

I first elect a seasonal organic ingredient,then find one or two flavors and up to three different textures that perfectly match this. Then, it’s lots of testing and tasting with my team to ensure we find the best match ever. It’s so important to taste over and over again to get a good feel for a dish and analyze how you can take it to the next level. It’s really a team effort because it’s so helpful to get the input of different tastebuds and palates.

What are your favorite ingredients to work with?

Right now, it’s cauliflower, because you can do many different preparations and it’s super healthy. In general, I love working with whatever is super fresh and of good quality at the market—that will be my favorite first choice.

What do you consider to be the standout moments of your career?

Work as a Director of Institut Culinaire Disciples Escoffier. You learn a lot when you teach the students. It’s a joy to train young chefs and to see programs you worked on be rolled out, not only in Hong Kong but in Manila and Shanghai as well. It’s amazing to see techniques and training pass on through the generations.

You’ve worked at Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe. What did you learn from these experiences?

Discipline, techniques, consistency, respect, and hygiene. These are core standards that can never be compromised, we always have to deliver the best in these areas.

What is your vision for Eatology?

Healthy, yummy food!. It’s so important that people realize how delicious healthy eating can be. You really can enjoy a huge variety of cuisine while you’re training to meet whatever fitness goals you have – healthy eating never has to be bland or boring. Don’t ever accept that!

Many people believe that nutritious, healthy meal delivery services like Eatology are, by their nature, unappetizing. How are you trying to change this perception?

We adapt popular dishes to create healthy versions. It’s very interesting and we can play with substitutes to create the same taste as less healthy food, like turkey blanquette with black truffle, for example. There’s a lot of nutritious potential with each dish, they just need to be worked on and refined with the right ingredients.

You focus on using high-quality ingredients and sourcing organic produce where possible. Why is this important?

Good food comes from good ingredients—they are the base. Once you work with ingredients and get to know them well, you can really start to put the dish together. This starts with connecting and building relationships with great suppliers and farmers who know the ingredients like no other – they can help you bring out the best qualities in the ingredients.

How are you bringing your fine-dining experiences to bear at Eatology?

I use the same techniques from fine-dining but adapt them for meal-plan delivery production. Making meals for delivery comes with its own set of challenges, so we do need to consider this when working to deliver the freshest, healthiest, best-tasting dishes possible.

How do you go about creating the different styles of meal plans Eatology offers, like Ketogenic, Paleo, and F45?

I use my recipe database and adapt them according to the desired meal plan—I also learn about nutrition to understand how it works and why. Eatology also has nutritionists who can help clients figure out what best works for their needs – they are a good resource for me to draw upon.

What do you hope diners will take away from their experience with Eatology?

I hope they find it fresh, tasty, very convenient, healthy, and a time-saver. Healthy eating really doesn’t have to be a chore for anyone – it can be very rewarding, fun, and easy to do with Eatology.

Dishin’ the Dirt profile.