Matt Abergel: Running a Michelin-star Hong Kong restaurant during the pandemic

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Of the 5,000 Jewish residents in Hong Kong, Canadian chef Matt Abergel is pretty recognizable. You might spot him riding his skateboard while hanging off a bus driving down the street, or you could find him wearing a T-shirt with the stark black-and-white logo of his famous restaurant, Yardbird.

He's the expat whose path started at the Calgary Jewish Academy, spending summers at Jewish sleepaway camp. He channelled his bubbe's chicken recipe when he started out as a professional chef, moving to Vancouver and New York before landing in Hong Kong, where he opened his first restaurant, Yardbird, in 2011.

Yardbird is located in the hip Sheung Wan district, near the ferry to Macao. Since it opened, the New York Times, Vogue and Time have all given it rave reviews. This year, as Yardbird celebrates 10 years, it's been awarded its first Michelin star. But between the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, China's increasing clampdown on individual freedoms and the COVID-19 pandemic, life as a restaurateur in Hong Kong has not been easy.

Abergel joins today to discuss these milestones and trials during arguably the most difficult year for restraurants on his island.

What we talked about:

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. Find more great Jewish podcasts at thecjn.ca.

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