Q&A with Samuel To, Brewer (& Resident Foodie), Hong Kong Beer Co
What inspired you to become a brewer?
Sam: I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and was pursuing a career in food. However, I switched over to brewing when I came to Hong Kong because I was fascinated by the skill required to produce a glass of beer. Beer is the oldest man-made alcohol – dating back over 13,000 years – and yet, it is not homogenous. There are over 30 beer styles and 100 beer categories ranging from American Light Lagers to Belgian Witbiers, Imperial Stouts, and Berliner Weisse Sour Beers. There is so much variety and no limit to the amount of creativity and innovation I can bring to work each day.
As Hong Kong Beer Co’s resident “foodie,” what is your favourite recipe to cook?
Sam: I love to cook hearty food that brings family and friends together. It’s impossible to choose just one recipe; however, lasagna casserole is a crowd pleaser and couldn’t be easier to make – just throw traditional lasagna ingredients into a casserole with penne pasta (no layering required), stir and bake. If I have more time, I like to make jumbalaya and gumbo. These are rich, spicey meat and vegetable stews with rice. Just like with beer, I’m always experimenting with different ingredient combinations to make the perfect dish!
What do you like to do in Hong Kong on your days off?
Sam: I feel as though I should have a more exciting answer but honestly, I just like to finish all my errands and chores and reward myself with a beer or two at the end of the day.
Hong Kong is one of the most visited cities in the world. What two things should visitors absolutely do when they come to Hong Kong?
Sam: For an authentic experience, visitors should head to a wet market. Check out every stall, watch the bargaining, stay for lunch, and have fun with pointing and hand gestures! Another great adventure is vintage clothes shopping in Mong Kok. Sort through endless racks of vintage, second-hand, and one-off clothing. Be transported to a bygone era of quality craftsmanship where you never know what you will find or learn.
What is your all-time favourite movie?
Sam: I like science fiction movies. Circle was pretty good. It’s a 2015 American psychological horror-thriller film that’s dark and reveals peoples’ true identities.
If you could meet any famous, living person, who would it be?
Sam: Francis Mallmann, the Argentine chef. He is the world’s most famous proponent of open fire cooking. Open fires are the oldest cooking method in the world. Francis specializes in Argentine barbecue and loves the freedom that comes with cooking outdoors. That’s a lifestyle I could enjoy every day!