Interview with

Chef Victor Liong and Our Birds

 Victor Liong, chef and co-owner of Lee Ho Fook in Melbourne’s CBD has shared his recipe for a classic Crispy Skin Cockerel. We had a chat about how and why he cooks with produce like ours.


How did you first discover Chooks at the Rooke?

 Xavier reached out to see if I was interested, the product was intriguing and we are always looking for new and exciting produce at Lee Ho Fook.


What is it about the product that took your attention initially and continues to do so?

 I love that we are helping with the food waste solution by utilising a product that would usually end up in waste. Historically, the foundation of many great cuisines is to take skill, traditional techniques and craftsmanship and adapt them to under-utilised and often overlooked ingredients.


The message of sustainability and ethical farming is strong with our birds. When choosing what to put on your menu, do ethics and animal welfare matter as much as flavour and quality (or do they go hand-in-hand?).

 I feel that when choosing ingredients in cooking, quality, flavour, and good practices go hand-in-hand. The passion and eco-conscious produce usually yield the best results. It is important to be aware of your produce purchase choices, in a time where modern farming practices are affecting the wider community’s health.


What would you like to drink with your crispy cockerel dish?

 I think a richer chardonnay varietal would go very well with this style of cooking. An aged chardonnay, richer aligoté or even a Jura-style, vin juane would be an easy fit.


What do you need to be aware of if you buy a cockerel to cook at home?

 The meat is quite robust, and the texture is toothsome. When preparing the cockerel the details of the cooking and the steps you take are more important than other poultry.


Thanks for your recipe! Any tips for the home cook who is determined to get the crispiest skin possible?

 Patience; the skin requires some time to dry out in the refrigerator uncovered. We dry ours for almost a week to get the best results. Also, be mindful of not overcooking the breast as the meat is very lean, but deliciously flavourful.


As told to Hilary McNevin