Tse aiming to reshape image of Chinese cuisine through show
Hong Kong actor-singer Nicholas Tse already cooks up a storm on Chef Nic, one of the leading food travelogue shows in China.
But that is not enough for him.
To further establish his legitimacy as a TV chef, the 37-year-old is going head to head with Canadian celebrity chef David Rocco in the new culinary series Celebrity Chef: East Vs West.
It airs on Fox Life (Singtel TV Ch 301/StarHub TV Ch 501) on Sundays at 9pm. It is also available on video-streaming service Fox+ and on Nat Geo People (Singtel TV Ch 255/StarHub TV Ch 412) from May.
Even though many people questioned why Tse, who is self-taught, would want to put his reputation at risk by competing against the internationally acclaimed, professionally trained Rocco, Tse is confident he has the chops to pull it off.
He told The New Paper in an e-mail interview: "Of course, I would not fight a war knowing I have no chance of winning.
"I learned everything by myself and practised a lot in the kitchen.
"I am willing to gamble to prove myself in a non-self-produced US cooking show, where rules are set and judges are found by a third party. That is how far I would go for my own brand, Chef Nic."
In Celebrity Chef: East Vs West, Tse brings his Chinese culinary influences to the table and aims to reshape the image of Chinese cuisine.
He said: "I think it is a cliche but a lot of Western chefs stereotype Chinese dishes as heavily seasoned and oiled. So through the style and fusion of my dishes this time, I hope to prove to people all around the world that Chinese dishes can be trendy and healthy as well."
The show involves Tse and Rocco travelling to five spots in Asia - including Macau, Shunde (in China), Manila, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur - and tasting local dishes blindfolded. They are then tasked with recreating the dish, with the title of "King of the Kitchen" on the line.
Tse said: "When you taste a dish with your eyes closed, a lot of weird ingredients pop into your head, and it is not easy to recall most of what you put into your mouth."
Even though the pair are on-screen rivals, they forged an off-screen friendship over the filming process.
Tse said: "We have a really good relationship. We enjoyed spending time with each other both on- and off-camera.
"David is a really friendly guy and since both of us have lived in Canada, I found, to a certain extent, there is a similarity in our thoughts and attitudes towards cooking."
Last year, Tse prepared the dessert course for 500 guests at A Night Among The Stars, a 10th anniversary gala dinner for the annual Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau.
He was also honoured with the first "Friend of Michelin", given to Michelin-star-worthy non-professional chefs and restaurateurs.
Tse cooks for his friends and family, including his two young sons and Hong Kong singer-girlfriend Faye Wong,whenever he is back home,
He said: "Which type of dish do they like the most? They try all sorts of dishes as I am always changing my style."