Chef-Parent Interview: Nate Green

Hosts Alice and Hsuan'ya of Nibble+squeak HK Interview Chef Nate Green ahead of our first Hong Kong event at Rhoda

First of all, congratulations on your new baby!  Thank you!

What lessons would you like to teach your children about cooking/food?
I really want my kids to know where their food comes from and how much hard work that goes in to growing it or raising it. I’d like them to know that its ok not to like something but you should always try it first before saying you don’t like it. Most of all I would love for them to find a joy in cooking and in food.

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What is your most interesting or fun experience while eating with your children?
I just love the way Lily interacts with the people around her when we dine out, she’s a real charmer. For us meal times are special.  Lily always eats with us, and a huge part of our meal is sharing as she always wants to try what we are eating, she always wants to share her food with you, and she always wants to feed you in the same way we feed her.  Harley is only 3 weeks old, but I love to give him his bottle as we do a mixture of breast and bottle feeding.  I think for Dad’s to be involved in the bottle feed is great bonding time.

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Does Lily have a good palate for food? Does she like the food you cook?
She loves food and will usually polish off anything I make her, I usually make batches of stuff and freeze it down for her. She’s a very lucky girl as her Por Por is also a really good cook and so I will tend to cook her western dishes and Por Por will cook her Cantonese food.

Where do you find inspiration when creating a new dish? Do you ever consider your family?
I always look at food memories when creating new dishes, child hood experiences always have a lasting impact on me, nothing evokes memories more than food and music. Rhoda’s food has always been about simplicity and flavor, everything has to be delicious and for me nothing is more than food cooked with love for those you love.

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Running your own kitchen and restaurant is very demanding and time consuming, how do you find balance between your family and business?
It’s tough, but luckily Rhoda is closed week day lunch, so I get a good 2-3 hours with the kids every morning before heading out. I tend not to go out after work so that I’m fresh to spend time with the kids in the morning and I always want to make sure that we have quality time together. My wife Kos is incredible and she always make sure we have as much family time as possible. We Facetime just before bed every day too. That’s the time I miss the most. I love giving Lily her bath it’s the thing I really look forward to doing together. Ultimately for us, the family comes first.

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Tell us a little background on yourself and how you ended up in Hong Kong.
I’m originally from near Birmingham in the UK. I moved to Hong Kong about four and a half years ago to seek a change from the grind of living in London where I had been for the previous 12 years. I’ve been working in kitchens for just over 22 years now having started at the age of 14 in our local village pub. My career has seen me work in many different styles of restaurants from gastro pubs to high end brasseries and Michelin-starred fine dining establishments.  I also took a year out to work at a family butchers to improve my knowledge of butchery.

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How and when did you first realize your love for the culinary arts?
I’ve been surrounded by food my whole life; the kitchen and meal times were always a focal point of family life for us. My dad used to grow a lot of his own fruit and veg, they never used to waste anything, which usually meant something was always cooking. I think I’ve been in the kitchen pretty much since I could walk. As I got older birthday treats wouldn’t be a trip to a theme park, I’d ask to go to a nice restaurant.

We know that Rhoda is named after your grandmother, how has she inspired your cooking, and what is the greatest lesson she’s taught you?
My Grandma lived in London throughout World War II so she was a real tough cookie, she came from a long line of great cooks. Her Mom used to cook at a pub called The Antelope, just off of Sloane Square in Chelsea. Grandma used to be able to be able to magic up feasts from nowhere, she was never happier than when she had a full house of hungry mouths to feed, everyone was welcome at her table she was a real hostess, which is I guess the best gift she ever gave me which is the gift of hospitality and wanting to make people feel welcome.

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How would you describe Hong Kong’s culinary scene?
It’s an incredibly diverse scene, there is something for every one.

When families dine at Rhoda, what would you like their lasting impression be?
Rhoda is all about sharing and encourage our guests to have a great time over good food and great conversation.  I just want them to create a great lifelong memory, I don’t really care if they remember what they ate or drank, I just want them to remember what a great time they had here.

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