Nicholas Tse's transformation from bad boy rocker to a family man has been in the works for years, and that metamorphosis is no doubt thanks to him discovering his passion for cooking. “I used to be this really locked-up kid, I didn’t talk much, I was on really bad terms with my family — until I started cooking. I found a new medium to converse with mom… [cooking] is just the best platform to open up. ‘Hey dad, you want to try this?’ Before I just didn’t have that bridge," Nic revealed in an interview last year.
If you're still thinking his love for the culinary arts is just another publicity stunt, take a look at his accolades. Along with the success of Chef Nic, his food travelogue series which featured the likes of Fan Bingbing and Eason Chan as his guests, he was also awarded the first ever "Friend of Michelin" in 2016, which honoured him as a Michelin-star worthy, non-professional chef. Yes, that Michelin. So when the opportunity came to interview him via email for his latest cooking show Celebrity Chef: East vs West, where he competes against renowned Canadian chef David Rocco in whipping up local Asian fare, we asked what every fan would want to know. What does he cook for his two sons, Lucas and Quintus? Is his celebrity family helpful in the kitchen? What’s his favourite meal to have with his girlfriend Faye Wong? We should have known better. The famously private Nic only answered three of our nine questions. “Nicholas wasn’t comfortable with the nature of some of the questions asked. He didn’t want to divulge the more personal information,” was the PR minder’s reply. Oh well.
WHAT NIC ANSWERED
8 DAYS: What’s the most memorable thing that happened behind the scenes of Celebrity Chef?
NICHOLAS TSE: The whole journey with David Rocco was unforgettable. Both of us were very nervous and serious about this. I never expected the host to be so careful, to a point that both of us sometimes had no idea what was happening. It reminded me of being a newbie again, and being told what to do next such as ‘hey stop there, raise up your hand, do not touch anything, you only get several minutes/second left…’ etc. But it is also because of the fact that the whole environment was so serious and challenging [that] I accepted the invitation and entered this contest.
What do you like to prepare for a large family gathering?
I usually prepare all kinds of dishes really, as I am always changing my style. I would cook for my family and friends whenever I am back as they would come over to my place.
You have shifted your focus from showbiz to the culinary arts. When did you realise that you actually had talent in cooking?
I was inspired to cook one day when I was watching a programme about pastries. I looked for the ingredients and failed on my first attempt of course. After that I kept trying and practising in order to improve myself. It’s something that was of great interest to me and I put my heart into it. Food also gives me fulfilment on a personal level.
SOME OF OUR QUESTIONS THAT NIC DIDN’T WANT TO ANSWER (And why we think he didn’t want to answer them)
What’s your favourite dish from Singapore?
Maybe he and Faye like the same local dish so he’s keeping mum to protect her?
What food do you cook for your kids as a treat?
Maybe it has something to do with how it’s been reported that Nic seldom gets to see his sons?
If you could choose an ingredient or a dish to represent your personality, what would it be?
Could his answer be Red Bean, which just happens to be a song that Faye wrote for her daughter?
What is the most romantic gesture a man can do for a woman in the kitchen?
Okay, he clearly didn’t want to answer this ’cos there’s no way we won’t infer that the answer is about Faye, right?
Do you listen to your own music when you cook? If not, whose music do you listen when you cook?
Definitely Faye’s music.
Celebrity Chef: East vs West airs Sun, Fox Life (Singtel Ch 301 & StarHub Ch 501), 9pm, and on streaming service Fox+.