“What I like about the kitchen is the energy that it brings – It’s non-stop from the moment I enter until the moment I leave.”
Chef A.J. started his culinary career around 2000 in Chicago, also spending time in Las Vegas. Throughout his twenty plus years’ experience, he worked in a variety restaurants and most recently joined The American Club Hong Kong in 2018. Currently, he is the Executive Chef for all restaurants in the Town Club.
My name is A.J. Guido. I’m the Executive Chef for the American Club – Town Club here in Hong Kong.
What is your perception of U.S. food and beverage products?
I really like them, coming from a large country like the U.S., we really have a multitude of climates and regions where we are able to grow and produce different things. Anything from an artisan cheese where you can produce a beautiful triple cream in upstate New York or a lovely Oregon Pinot or a Cabernet Sauvignon from California. It is really nice. Everything in between, beautiful mushrooms and beef. There’s plenty that you can enjoy from across the country.
What advantages do you see in using U.S. food ingredients compared to those from other countries?
I think it is a little bit of a familiarity and knowing where it comes from. Starting out as a chef in the U.S., you are able to have a little bit of an understanding of where you are pulling things from or what part of the country that is coming from, or if it is a specific ranch.
If I say I need morels from the U.S., I know that they are likely going to come out of Oregon and I know my season on it. If I want Peekytoe Crab, I know that they are going to come out of the Northeast. Or beautiful lobsters, I know where I’m pulling them from, whereas other parts of the world, I might know what country it’s coming from, but that is often the extent of it. To have a little bit more of a closer knowledge and those ties which are really kind of important.
The advantage is that I know, generally speaking, when things will be at their peak freshness or having those close ties with the suppliers that are either based here or back in the U.S., I can connect with them and find out, when is it really going to be best for me. That way, we are able to pinpoint when we want to bring something in, and so that advantage is huge.
What are some of the new consumer trends/preferences you are seeing in the Hong Kong food service industry?
I have definitely seen the return of the fourth meal coming again, which was a big thing in Hong Kong several years ago. You see that especially in the warmer months when it is very hot and humid and nobody wants to go eat because it is just too hot and gross or they will have something and then they will go eat later when it is kind of cooled off later on at night. As we come out of the pandemic, I see a lot of those places are starting to kind of percolate and show signs of life again.
Another big one is still the amount of beef that is consumed in this city is just staggering. You hear another term that is often used as revenge spending. I do not think we necessarily see that here in the club, but now that people are able to gather again, we have added on, we call it the feast, and it is like a big tomahawk roast with bone marrow and lobster, so that is one way everyone can gather to have that big meal and so that has been popular. You see around town to the larger format cuts or like live king crabs, things like that, you see people kind of wanting to get together and have that bond, it is our human nature to interact. When it has been a challenge to be in groups that are too big, getting back into that, that is one of the main things that I have observed.