Live to eat

Eatology culinary director Vincent Leroux knows that the choice between healthy or delicious is a false dichotomy when it comes to food.

Growing up in France, food has always been a big part of Leroux’s life.

“We were not fortunate people, but we ate properly three times a day,” he said. “Because these three meals are the most important in our lives.”

Each meal would last at least three hours, he said, explaining that eating plays a big part in French culture, as it is a way for people to gather around the table to socialize.

His mother and grandmother would often cook for the family, and as a child, he would stay in the kitchen to watch his mother’s cooking with a small notebook to jot down notes and recipes.

While he did not excel academically, the artistic Leroux was good at cooking and drawing. So when it came to choosing a career, he debated going into advertising design or taking the culinary path.

Upon consulting his parents, he ultimately chose to work in a kitchen as it was a safer career path and would provide him with opportunities to travel the world.

He started with an internship at the Sofitel Sevres at the age of 16, where he alternated between studying and working every week.

Graduating at 18, he then worked at various Michelin-star restaurants in Paris for more than a decade, slowly building his resume.

“I started as a commis – the first step in a kitchen – in a one-star Michelin restaurant; and 12 years later, I finished as a sous chef in a three-star Michelin restaurant.”

He then fulfilled his dream to travel, working as a chef around the world, including Switzerland, the Caribbean, Saudi Arabia and Madagascar.

“I really wanted to discover the world and different mentalities,” he said.

Ultimately he decided to go back to start his own restaurant, Auberge de Camille, but because of Paris’ high taxes, he decided to move on and venture to Asia instead.

Landing in Hong Kong, he first started working at La Grande Bouffe on Hollywood Road cooking traditional French casual fine dining.

There, he was approached by the then-president of the Disciples Escoffier International in the Asia Pacific, who was looking to start a French culinary school in Hong Kong.

Leroux found the idea interesting and helped found the Institut Culinaire Disciples Escoffier, creating and teaching a program whereby students could obtain a French diploma in the culinary arts in Hong Kong.

“Some chefs don’t know how to properly explain how we work and why, so I basically opened the books to learn again how to explain the theoretical part of the kitchen,” he recalled.

Leroux believes that to be a good cook, one must venture out and learn different types of cooking and gain different types of experience.

The experience he gained helped him manage each of the roles he subsequently worked in.

For example, Leroux found his teaching experience to be immensely helpful while working as an executive chef in the St Regis Hotel, as he knew how to lead the team instead of just managing. “If I don’t learn, I stop working. I need to learn every day,” he explained.

“I like the challenge, I like to start something when it is difficult. I like the moment when I am creating something. Afterward, it is boring because it is repetitive.”

That was also the reason why he left teaching to help build the St Regis Hotel restaurants L’envol and Run.

The restaurants obtained one Michelin star within seven months of opening under his leadership.

Leroux’s newest endeavor is with Eatology, a healthy meal-planning company. He first met the founders during his days at the ICDE and worked with them to provide cold-pressed juice in the St Regis.

Joining the Eatlogy team as its culinary director during the pandemic, Leroux believes that healthy food is the future and plans to add his gourmet repertoire into the business, providing yummy and good-looking food without sacrificing the healthy element.

Various meal plans for different diets and lifestyles made with all-natural ingredients are available for subscription on the company’s website.

“Cooking is not a job for me – it is my passion,” said Leroux.

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