Calm, softly spoken and humble. There aren’t many celebrity chefs who could be described in this way.
But then Ken Hom isn’t your typical TV chef. He’s perhaps the most relaxing celebrity you could meet.
As he leans back in his chair exchanging pleasantries, his cool, laid-back demeanour gives nothing of his success away.
Over the years, his name has become synonymous with far eastern food. In addition to his TV career, he’s written more than 20 cookery books.
Remind him of his achievements and he almost seems surprised.
‘I thought, OK, I’m from the States. I’ll come and do the TV series because it’s work for me and then that will be it. But instead, it actually became my career,’ he says.
The series he’s referring to is the 1984 BBC show Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery – the programme which kick-started his career in the UK.
There have been plenty of career highlights since. One particular standout is the OBE he was awarded in 2009.
He says: ‘I was stunned, surprised and happy – not so much for myself but because I knew it would make my mum so happy. She was close to 90 at that time and couldn’t travel any more, but she read about it in the Chinese newspapers.’
It seems a lot’s changed since the Chicago chef came to the UK. Now the 61-year-old is trying to take life a little easier. He splits his time between France and Thailand and loves to travel, but he’s definitely not ready to hang up his wok just yet.
Hom is still hungry for recipe success and as such, the BBC has published his latest book Ken Hom – Complete Chinese Cookbook.
He says: ‘Some things are quite complicated while others are very simple. There’s something for everyone.’
Ditch the takeaway and have a go at Hom cooking
Barbecued roast pork
(Serves 6 to 8))
1kg boneless pork shoulder
3-5tbsp honey, for basting
For the marinade
2tbsp light soy sauce
2tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1tbsp whole yellow bean sauce
2tbsp finely chopped garlic
2tbsp hoisin sauce
2tbsp fermented red beancurd
1tbsp five-spice powder
Salt and black pepper
Cut the pork into 18x10cm strips.
1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the pork, and leave overnight in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. While it’s heating up, place the pork strips on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up.
3. Put 150ml of water into the roasting pan. Put the pork into the oven and roast for 45 minutes, basting from time to time with the honey.
4. Turn the heat up to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and continue to roast for a further 15 minutes.
5. Remove the pork from the oven and leave until it’s cool enough to handle.