Victor Liong and Chase Kojima have brought together not only their world class skills but also their revolutionary approaches to Chinese and Japanese cuisine. This is East meets East but not as you know it. The CHUUKA menu is a collaboration between the two co-head chefs, with both of them coming up with ideas and throwing them out to each other to change things up. The result is nothing short of sublime.
Chase is San Fran born and raised. Son of legendary sushi chef Sachio Kojima. Chase worked for his dad in his O.G. restaurant since nine. Sachio never gave Chase praise, or taught him his skills, instead Chase was told to steal the techniques from him.
Chase moved to Vegas to work under Nobu Matsuhisa. Chefs in Nobu would tell Chase that he wasn’t worthy to touch their fish in the kitchen. His dad also told him they’d only let him wash the dishes. Chase decided to prove them wrong. To show them not only that he was worthy to touch fish, but he was going to treat and serve that fish better than anyone. Within a couple of years, at age 26, Chase was the Head Chef and helped open and manage multiple Nobu’s around the world (Dubai, London, LA, Vegas, Bahamas, etc...) The fish touching was going O.K. for him.
When Chase had enough of being awesome at Nobu group, he came to Australia to be awesome on a 4th continent. With fundamentals honed at the world’s best restaurants and a unique palate that has been shaped by an American upbringing and a global life. Chase is essentially the John Wick of chefs. Plus, he looks wicked in black.
Aged 6, Victor moved from Malaysia to Sydney and fell in love with falafel. This was his first dalliance with a chickpea, and it was a gateway legume on the way to forgetting his Chinese heritage. Fortunately for us, and for everyone who loves spectacularly tasty and completely innovative Chinese cooking, in his 20’s Victor remembered where he came from. In rediscovering that culture he learned to define what it meant for him and explore how it sat alongside the cultural fusion of his upbringing (falafel included). This journey is what has resulted in his distinct brand of cooking.
Cultural and personal odysseys aside Victor is also, in his own words, ‘damn good at cooking’. This isn’t lucky, it’s the result of working at some of Australia’s most innovative restaurants and having tutelage under chefs like Mark Best and Dan Hong. From a school of thought which teaches ‘anything you can do, I can do better and with more jokes and swearing’, Victor set up Lee Ho Fook in Melbourne, which he named after a 70’s song about a werewolf – because he’s Victor. Now he’s back in Sydney and he reckons he looks even better than Chase in black.