Sometimes following your passions can lead you down strange roads. Take, for example, Chef Tiff Chan. She runs Chef Tiff’s Kitchen in Hong Kong, which focuses on fusion tea cuisine — a blending of traditional foods with tea flavors. But that’s not what the 24-year-old had in mind during her three years of college in the United States.
At age 4, she started playing the piano. By middle school, she was classically trained in the trumpet. In high school, she taught herself how to play guitar. Those melodic inclinations eventually brought her to America, where she studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, She quickly discovered that she had an affinity for songwriting.
“Through songwriting I’m able to express myself and my emotion, but it’s also a precious way to record moments in my life and things that happen all around me,” Chan said. “By the time I graduated, my goal was to be a songwriter/singer-songwriter.”
When she returned to Hong Kong to begin her musical career, she spent a lot of time with a personal trainer. This included a strict diet. During that time, Chan learned to cook for herself and discovered new ways to make food look and taste better. She was also experimenting with healthier matcha deserts.
“I shared photos of my matcha desserts with friends and they thought that maybe there are other people in the same situations – on a diet, can’t have dessert – so why not try to make it a business,” Chan said. “It started just for fun. However, the more I dove into it, the more passionate I became. I started exploring different ways to work with tea and surprisingly these unique ideas became my signature style and brand.”
But she hasn’t abandoned her music. And she never will. She’s often listening to instrumental sounds when brainstorming new ideas and dishes. She also debuted two singles recently with the help of a crowd-funding campaign that was fueled by fans of Chef Tiff’s Kitchen. She’s also an accomplished artist and last year launched her own cooking program, “Chef Tiff’s Kitchen” through an online platform. She’s also planning a two-week pop up restaurant in SoHo Hong Kong in August where she’ll be serving a nine-course team tasting menu.
“At T Lab by Chef Tiff’s Kitchen, I hope to let diners enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience with tea and have a new experience with tea cuisine,” Chan said.