Say hai to... Imogen Kwok Recipe Special
Hi Imogen....or should we say Hai!
Can you describe what you do?
I use food as an artistic medium to encourage comprehension through conception. My projects range from interactive dinners, edible installations and bespoke recipe creation.
Food has an incredible potential to showcase a new understanding of design and concepts— here I have created a dish in response to Hai’s collection, in particular the Little Lilac Bag.
To reflect the meaning of ‘hai’ in Chinese (which refers to the sea and movement of waves), this recipe uses a whole fish such as sea bream, red snapper or striped bass. As Hai’s designs draw inspiration from both Shanghai and London, the fish is cooked in a parchment paper package (‘en papillote’, which is a traditional French technique) with Chinese aromatics and seasonings— representing the flow between Western and Eastern cultures.
Where do you consider home? When do you know you are home?
I was born in Sydney, raised in NYC and currently live in London. I felt a new wave of inspiration when I moved here two years ago — I think that that is why I feel so at home in London now.
Very excited, energetic and slightly scatter-brained...thoughts are usually written down all over the place — post-its, notebooks, on my phone. Part of the process is going back and making sense of all the ideas.
The best, untalked about place in your city?
I recently discovered a Persian restaurant called Chelo, in Maida Vale. Sadly due to the lockdown I haven’t actually eaten in at their space but the dishes I’ve collected have been beyond delicious and very comforting, especially the Akbar Joojeh and Tahchin.
How, or where do you go to find inspiration?
My work moves very fluidly between different worlds— I love finding ways to interpret something through a culinary lens that is not traditionally associated with food. For Hai, the brand name and ethos inspired the ingredients and method for this recipe. I wanted to represent the quality of material (Chinese Mulberry Silk) through the tender texture of the steamed fish as well as highlight the bag’s lilac colour through the tint of the fish’s scales and garnish in the images.
What do you do when no one is watching?
Wild dancing! Music is constantly playing from the moment I wake up (hopefully my neighbours are bemused rather than highly irritated).
I choose clothes and accessories based on my emotions— I always dress the way I feel and use outfits to help transform my mood. As my work revolves around the body and multi-sensory experiences, I am very aware and particular regarding how a material feels against my skin or in my hand. Nothing goes unnoticed!
Where are you going to take your Hai next?
I recently flew back to London and currently self-isolating... so for now I am taking my Hai from my bedroom to the living room — I can’t wait to bring this beautiful piece out into the real world!