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Alivn Leung: 'I use blenders a lot to make cocktails, so I can drink while cooking'


My earliest food memory… I'll never forget my mother's instant noodles when I was growing up in New York. My mother's an awful cook so I ate a lot of bad food when I was young. It forced me to learn how to cook myself.

My store-cupboard essentials… At home I don't want to work so there's just comfort food in my cupboards such as oatmeal and ordinary things like that. There's no spider heads or monkey brains in there. Growing up in the States, I'm big on junk food. I love potato chips [crisps]. My favourite are Heinz Tomato Ketchup-flavoured.

My favourite cookbook… The Cordon Bleu cookbooks are the dirtiest in my collection so that must mean something! I'm self taught so I really depended on those books in the early days of my career and for me they're just the most practical. Even now, whenever I'm creating a new recipe, a lot of the time I just need to find out how to make custard or a meringue, and they tell you very simply.

The kitchen gadget I couldn't live without… I use blenders a lot to make my cocktails so I can drink while cooking. Also, my lighter. So I can smoke a cigar when I'm at the stove.

My top culinary tip… Never be satisfied. There's always room to learn, no matter who you are or what you've become. For me, the more I do, the more inspired I am. I'm never happy with what I have, because once you've reached the top then it's game over. You die. You get shot by zombies or reach the last level. So you have to keep pushing that last level away from you.

My favourite food shop… I haven't been paid to say one yet! Heston's already got Waitrose so I might have to go for Asda or Marks & Spencer. I don't like "food" emporiums; Harrods or Fortnum & Mason aren't my thing. I like individual shops that have spices and weird ingredients so you can discover something new. I find it inspiring to walk around a market, trying all the street food.

My favourite restaurant… It's not a good idea to declare your favourite restaurant when you have friends who are chefs. I like KFC. That way, no chef in London will be insulted that I didn't say I liked his restaurant best. Maybe McDonald's will be annoyed, but they're big enough to cope.

The weirdest thing I've ever eaten… I'm Chinese–- we eat everything that doesn't eat us back! I'm game for anything but I won't eat dog any more because I love my three Szechuan chihuahuas. But I've eaten waterbugs, shark fin, sea cucumber and giant salamander. And I had monkey meat in Taiwan – it tasted like chicken.

My dream dining companion… I watched a TV show on Auguste Escoffier, the French chef, the other night. He seems very interesting so I'd like to dine with him. He took food to another level. Your dream dining companion should always be someone who's rich so that they'll pay the bill.

My gastronomic guilty pleasure… Being a diabetic, a lot of things have become guilty pleasures. And I'm married now, so I can't eat strawberries from a woman's breasts.

My comfort food… Hot soup on a winter's day. You have to have contrasts in life. Coffee tastes better on a winter's day, sat outside a café in Paris. That's a double pleasure – it keeps you warm and wakes you up. Not in America, though. You can use their coffee as a hand-warmer but that's about it.

Alvin Leung hosts a television programme called 'The Maverick Chef', is nicknamed 'The Demon Chef' and calls his cooking X-Treme Cuisine. His Bo Innovation restaurant in Hong Kong has two Michelin stars. His new restaurant, Bo London, opened this month at 4 Mill Street, London W1 (bolondonrestaurant.com)