Culinary Director – Richard Ekkebus
“I did not learn to cook in France,” says Amber’s Culinary Director Richard Ekkebus of his formative years in the kitchen, “What I developed there was a deep appreciation for French peoples’ pride in their fertile land and what they farm or raise.” Now at Amber, the signature restaurant of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel, Hong Kong, the Dutch-born Ekkebus selects his ingredients with the same dedication, sourcing from the finest producers around the world.
Genuine delight registers on his expressive face in sharing the most recent arrivals with his diners, from Turkish figs to Japanese sea urchins. He credits his restaurant-owning grandparents with teaching him how to pick the best apples in Fall and berries during Summer, and how to hunt and fish near their seaside Holland home.
While he calls his upbringing “the best apprenticeship”, he also recognises the Michelin-starred Dutch chefs Hans Snijders and Robert Kranenborg who taught him how to cook, and the French masters under whom he refined his skills. Alain Passard taught him that every ingredient must be purposeful. He bonded with Guy Savoy on the rugby field then learned how to think globally about cuisine. He mastered technique under Pierre Gagnaire, who simultaneously showed him the importance of trusting his intuition in the kitchen. The sixteen-hour days he reminisces, “were not a job, but a passion.”
After tours in Mauritius and Barbados, Ekkebus brought that same commitment and spirit to his own kitchen at Amber in 2005. His European and Hong Kong chefs share that same intense work ethic, which has allowed the 52-strong team under his leadership to achieve two Michelin stars for six years running.