Baccarat Magazine, Supermodel QiQi, Amber

Have you read the October 2013 issue of Baccarat Magazine (press page)!? If not..

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Here it is …in its entire glory! I’m a published (other than my blog) writer! 😉

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BACCARAT. OCT 2013. DINING OUT – JESS JANN COLUMN 

Model and budding actress Jessica Jann – she appeared in Lethal Weapon 4 at age 8 – loves to eat. The bubbly beauty was raised in California and settled in Hong Kong three years ago. Follow her food adventures on her blog at www.eatwithjess.com and also in this magazine as she takes supermodels out for lunch. 

Photography by Ike, Dress by Maje, Hair by Katie @ iL Colpo, Makeup by CLing

Culinary Conversation with Qi Qi

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I arrive at the exquisitely beautiful Amber and prance around anxiously awaiting the arrival of my guest, supermodel, mentor and family friend Qi Qi Yam. Discovered in Vienna when she was only 17 years old, Qi Qi’s statuesque beauty, grace and elegance is displayed in numerous international modelling campaigns and endorsements, and she achieved power couple status upon her marriage to actor Simon Yam. The two are happy, in love and successfully juggling their careers while raising daughter Ella, who’s the spitting image of her mother (lucky girl). I sit down with Qi Qi for a late lunch to discuss her lifestyle, food preferences and how she’s not just a supermodel but also a supermom!

Jess: How do you stay fit, healthy and in shape?

Qi Qi: From an early age, I was raised and taught to be healthy – eat well, exercise and have a routine. I love to work. I like being busy – I think when you are busy there’s definitely more to life. I try to be constantly active – I do hot yoga now. And even when I’m travelling, I make sure I walk around a lot.

Jess: What’s a day in the life of Qi Qi like in terms of meals?

Qi Qi: I wake up early, around 7am, to check up on Ella and help her get ready for school. Breakfast usually begins with a bowl of muesli and fresh fruit and I like to add nuts and milk into the mix too. Sometimes I’ll have fried eggs, bacon and mashed potato. Eating more in the daytime is fine! Funny thing – this morning I had your auntie’s wontons. They’re delicious! [Very true, my aunt’s an amazing cook.]

Lunch is nice and light. If I eat at home it’ll typically be a lot of vegetables and a nice boiled Chinese soup. Dinner is light too and I tend to eat early. I never miss a meal; I must eat three meals a day. I don’t drink alcohol and I rarely have a midnight snack.

Jess: Any dieting secrets you can share?

Qi Qi: I don’t really follow diets. I keep to my routine of eating healthy, real, clean foods, as well as keeping on the go at all times. I believe being active and sweating is so good for you.

Jess: Nice – eat clean, train mean and be lean! Again as a model, what’s the worst diet fad you’ve heard of?

Qi Qi: Modelling is tough. I hear of people who don’t eat much. They might only eat vegetables but exercise a lot, or only eat apples all day. Even limiting yourself to one or two meals a day is not good for you.

Jess: Agreed. Extreme dieting sounds very scary. Speaking of modelling, what’s been your most memorable job?

Qi Qi: It would have to be my first international campaign. It was for Bloomingdales and released in the US. I was very young, super thankful and we shot with an amazing top photographer.

Jess: What’s your proudest moment thus far?

Qi Qi: Being a mother to Ella. That’s the magic moment!

Jess: Do you have any motherhood advice for new mommies? What’s the best secret your mom and dad have passed on to you?

Qi Qi: Just to love your family. Family comes first. As my parents said, a happy house is one with family. I’ve always been very good about that and it comes very naturally to me too. To care, protect and love my family.

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Jess: Do you ever cook for Ella? What would you make for her?

Qi Qi: [Laughs] I do cook for Ella, but I’m a terrible cook. I like to eat, but not to cook! I’d like to make a nice, clean stir-fry. Sometimes I ask Ella what she wants her mama to cook for her and she’ll eye me and say sweetly, “No, thanks!”

Jess: That’s adorable. What’s your favourite cuisine? Since we are both Shanghainese, could it possibly be Shanghai home cooking?

Qi Qi: Actually my first love is Sichuan food. I like it spicy! Second is Hunan and third would be Shanghainese. Italian is also pretty good.

QI QI’S FAVOURITES

Restaurant: A small barbecue joint in Vienna. Delicious pork ribs!

Dessert: Sevva’s lychee and chestnut cake or the boba tapioca-like dessert popular in Taiwan.

Go-to meal: Hot pot!

Must-have item: iPhone.

Moment: When Ella was born

Amber Allure

When you walk into the luxe Amber(post), the ambience says fine dining at its very best. The restaurant is open and spacious, with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing bursts of sunlight to splash in, yet it’s private and elegant with splendid white and rich dark red decor.

As we meet the extremely talented culinary director Richard Ekkebus, the anticipation is ever growing, along with the rumble in our stomachs! I’m sure you all know of the two shiny Michelin stars, glowing reviews and numerous awards this chef has helped Amber to accumulate, so let’s skip ahead to the good stuff – the food.

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We start our tasting with the house signature bite-sized canapes. The famous foie gras lollipops pack an unmistakable welcome punch. A shiny raspberry and beetroot red glaze coats the savoury snack, but Ekkebus so excellently crafts the lollipop that the foie gras hits our tongue and melts like delicious chocolate in our mouths.

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Next up is other delightful amuse bouche of cauliflower veloute with Japanese Taiyouran egg and black winter truffles, then eggplant-infused mini pita bread poppers, and marinated watermelon jellies . . . and we haven’t even got to our main dishes yet.

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After a quick selection from Amber’s hot-out-of-the-oven bread basket…

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We bite into a delightfully bright and bold green dish: two succulent pieces of langoustine, charred but kept slightly raw, infused with kyuri cucumber, granny smith apple and jalapeno marinade. The charming green marinade jelly is not only bewitching to the eye but also scrumptious to the stomach. The langoustine is probably the best I’ve ever had – light, soft, tender, sweet and simply lovely.

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Our main course is another heavenly culinary wonder. A delicate and luscious sea bream glazed with stewed mitzutako (chicken) and mini asparagus with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and organic lemons. Yet again, it’s so pleasing for the eye and yet so flavourful. The juicy-ness of the fish is full, rich and savoury; fish is hard to cook, and this is cooked to perfection. The texture of the chewy, harder mitzutako is a wonderful compliment to the light, soft and fluffy sea bream. Hats off to the chef!

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By this point, my stomach is stuffed, but we cannot forgo dessert, so we savour a cherries and manjari chocolate tart with cherry sorbet. Perfect! Amber, as its consistent top restaurant ranking testifies, is superb and like fine wine it continues to get better each year. We leave satisfied; indeed beyond satisfied.

Amber, 7/F, Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 2132 0066, www.amberhongkong.com

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Always, Jess