Following is the speech by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, at the "Hong Kong. Taste it!" Launch Function in Sydney, Australia today (October 23) (English only):
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to participate in the launch of the Hong Kong Tourism Board's "Hong Kong. Taste it!" promotion here in Sydney. I'm no stranger to this great city, so I know you have some excellent restaurants, and some of them are not too far from here; including those with eye-catching views over your stunning harbour - a little bit like where I come from in Hong Kong. You may not know this, but all Chinese are passionate about food. Indeed, we, Cantonese people greet each other in the street, not by asking how the other is feeling; but whether we have eaten yet?
Hong Kong is renowned as the "Culinary Capital of Asia". We have close to 10,000 restaurants providing dining options of all kinds, including regional Chinese specialities, Hong Kong signature dishes, a wide range of Asian delicacies and Western cuisines. We offer an overwhelming array of delicious dishes all year but for me the seasonal specialities are the best. For example, late autumn (the season we're now experiencing in Hong Kong) is the ideal time to enjoy the Shanghai speciality, hairy crabs. In winter, we have the steaming hotpots and a host of other tantalising dishes to be enjoyed with various fortifying drinks.
And, no visit to Hong Kong would be complete without a visit to the local teahouse for dim-sum. This would have to be one of the best ways to get the taste and feel for Hong Kong and how we enjoy ourselves.
Some could even argue that Chinese food is the essence of our culture in Hong Kong. Of course, we have long been known as the spiritual home of Cantonese food, which we modestly claim to be the finest of all Chinese cuisines. In addition, however, I can tell you that our chefs prepare the very best of regional dishes from all over China. Whether it is Peking Duck, Szechuan spicy chicken or juicy Shanghai dumplings you are after, you have it in Hong Kong.
To highlight the city's dining attractions to visitors and help them find the finest examples of our classic and representative dishes, the Hong Kong Tourism Board launched its "Best of the Best Culinary Awards" programme in 2001 to promote Chinese gourmet dining. Since then, the standard of competition has continued to develop and the range of dishes entered is truly amazing.
Entries for the competition this year are now being evaluated. And I'm delighted that renowned Australian food personality - I'm not allowed to call her "chef" - Kylie Kwong, will be the Guest International Judge. I would also like to congratulate Kylie on the launch of her new national television cooking programme. I'm sure it will tempt more people to taste Asian-style cuisine and, indirectly, encourage them to travel to the best place to eat it - Hong Kong. Perhaps, they could time their arrival for the finals of the 2003 "Best of the Best Culinary Awards", which will be held next month, and be able to taste for themselves the winning entries.
Indeed, that's the idea of today's launch of the "Hong Kong - Taste it!" promotion. We want you and all the other Australian food lovers to come to Hong Kong and experience our gourmet delights. I can assure you that you won't be disappointed.
Ends/Thursday, October 23, 2003