Ralph So was born in Malaysia, where a passion for food is in everyone’s DNA. He says: “Food is a massive part of our culture and I learnt to love food from a tender age. My dad is an enthusiastic fisherman and wild game hunter so I was taught to catch and cook very early on. I enjoy every food moment regardless of cuisine, from a perfectly roasted chicken to a single spoon of caviar, but most often my career has led me to Asian cooking, which I am still exploring everyday despite my background.”
Ralph studied commercial cookery and hospitality on the Gold Coast before working at Koi on Broadbeach, one of the busiest and most popular local restaurants.
In 2013 he moved to Melbourne, where he worked alongside Graeme Hunt (now executive chef of Chin Chin Sydney) first as chef de partie at Neil Perry’s Italian restaurant, Rosetta, and then for 4 years at mod-Asian Spice Temple.
So, it’s not surprising that he was part of Graeme’s opening team, when he launched the Sydney branch of mod-Thai restaurant Chin Chin in October 2017. Ralph, who started there as senior sous chef, was promoted to head chef in May 2018 and now overseas two kitchens and a brigade of 30 chefs.
At the core of his food philosophy is a respect for the produce he uses: “I often tell my cooks to remember how long the produce takes to grow, how much time and labour is involved before it gets to us, and so to always handle it with care. I tell them to always cook with their hearts rather than blindly following technique or recipes. Cooking is an opportunity to bring joy and bring people together.”
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