Interview and photograph by Florence Noble.
The very funny general manager at Xuxu Dumpling Bar doesn’t want much apart from a good time with a lot of friends at Christmas.
Are you from Auckland?
No. I’m originally from Hong Kong. I lived in Rotorua. Went to Tauranga Boys for high school and after that I moved to Auckland for Uni, got a diploma in Hospitality Management and after that just been in hospo on and off for 12 years.
Is it your dream job?
In a way, yeah. I like the challenge of it. Back in the day, I actually liked the violence of it. You had to work in a closed kitchen. Nowadays the chefs are more civilised, because of the whole HR thing. You have to be nice to the staff. But if you ask anyone who has an equal amount of experience as me, they have all had a cast iron pan thrown their way before.
Yeah. A piping hot cast iron pan. My first cast iron pan experience was from my own uncle. He’s a chef in France. We were cooking at home for family dinner and I was taking too long for the sauce, so he threw a cast iron pan at me.
Did it hit you?
Yeah. It hurt. But my hair covers up the scar.
Whoa. How do you get to Britomart?
On a sunny day I’ll walk. Or I take the bus.
If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?
Formula One driver.
Great! Do you drive well then?
I’m an Asian. I can’t do. Ha ha. What license?
Do you have a license?
Yeah, I found it in the toilet at the Britomart Train Station. Ha ha!
What’s your favourite thing to spend money on?
Experiences. Going out dining, hiking, doing a trip. Even a good bottle of wine and the company of friends.
Have you got your eye on anything to buy at the moment?
A friend of mine’s just got a job at the first Lego store in New Zealand, so I might hustle him for a Millennium Falcon. I’m not very materialistic. I’m usually pretty minimalist. Let’s say you asked me to move out of my house the day after tomorrow, I could go home and pack and be ready to go by tomorrow. I could pack everything I have into a giant backpack and a suitcase. There are only so many material objects that you really need. I need contact lenses, contact solution, toothpaste, body wash… food.
Where would you like to eat out then?
I do want to try Amano. I haven’t tried it yet. I do enjoy the food at Cafe Hanoi, I’m not gonna lie. My favourite place for a drink is definitely Xuxu because our wine list is the most interesting around here. If I feel like beers, I go to The Chamberlain, and they do actually have a really good food menu. Interesting beers.
How will you be spending your Christmas period?
With my friends. My parents aren’t here, so the last few years I’ve been spending it with the crew from SPQR and last year also the crew from Chapel, so this year I will most likely do the same. We’ve become good friends over the years. Last Christmas we had 75 people around my house.
What do you do to celebrate Christmas?
I’m not religious and I don’t believe in Santa. For me, it’s all about people getting together. My focus right now is to get through the first few weeks of Christmas, it’s going to be very busy, and hopefully good weather. Last year there was so much wind and rain that no one could even sit outside! [Ed: It’s looking promising!]