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INTERVIEW: CHONG CHU

Chong Chu is the man behind the Foodhallen Amsterdam, the recently opened Foodhallen Rotterdam, Meat West and Brasserie Halte 3 in Amsterdam. He lives with his wife Joyce and their three beautiful kids in Rotterdam. He is a young entrepreneur in the hospitality industry with a lot of ambition. We talked with Chong about entrepreneurship, his family and his roots.

Tell us about your cultural heritage and please share your views on the importance of family, values and tradition?

My cultural heritage origins in China, my great grandfather was the first one who arrived from China in the Netherlands to seek a better future. In the 70’s my grandfather and grandmother moved from China to the Netherlands and settled here. They opened traditional Chinese restaurants and worked hard to provide for the family. My father married my mother in 1979 and also moved to the Netherlands, my mother then quickly moved to the Netherlands to join my father in 1980. In 1981 I was born in Utrecht and soon we moved to Rotterdam where my parents started opening restaurants themselves. Therefore, hospitality is something I grew up with and nowadays it is my main focus in all my business ventures.

In the Chinese culture family is a very important subject, everything related to family is of high importance. My parents shared a lot of their Chinese values and traditions and at the same time I got in contact with a lot of values and traditions from the Dutch culture. In my youth there were questions and struggles, which values should I believe in? What was the right thing to do? Am I Chinese, or am I Dutch? But why choose one? Why not believe in them both? I try to absorb the best of both worlds and use them in my daily life, I try to pass on the Chinese traditions and values which I support and believe in to my children and also teach them the Dutch morals at the same time.

Based on your success in business so far, if you could give our audience one piece of game changing advice, what would it be?
Dare to take risks, don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. No guts no glory!

Give us your views on work mentality versus skill in execution on the road to success?
A good work mentality is essential in the road to success. If you are at the head of an organization, you are the one to set the right example. Make yourself credible, lead by example.

So, a good work mentality is important, but the result is what counts. People will always look at the result, it all starts with an idea, but a good execution makes it a good idea.

Can you share your views on material wealth versus happiness?
I would be lying if I said that material wealth is not important in life, it makes life a lot easier. Luxury is nice to have and also something that you get used to really quick. But does material wealth equal happiness? I guess not, happiness is such a broad subject it lies in a lot of things. Happiness is waking up on a Sunday morning surrounded by my wife and children. It’s having dinner in my favorite restaurant with my dearest friends.

Maybe it is the biggest cliché but what does all the wealth in the world mean when you can’t feel simple happiness.

Any favorite luxury brands and is the way you dress and present yourself of importance in your business?
Not really a preference for specific luxury brands, I have a broad spectrum of brands I like, ranging from mainstream to niche brands.

My father once said that I should dress more “business” like when I go to the office, but I don’t think that my outfit will have any effect on the performance of my staff members. It’s what I do and say that should motivate them and make me credible. In my line of business, the way I dress is not as important as in other businesses.

Any collections? And name one sought-after item or piece that you would like to add.
 I have a sneaker collection that is growing rapidly, I am always looking for rare and special sneakers. The one sneaker I really want to add to my collection is the Nike air Jordan 1 Chicago in collaboration with Off white, it’s the current price which is withholding me from buying it.

The other crazy thing I collect is everything from Supreme varying from: t-shirts, bags, puzzles, bolt cutters and other crazy things. It’s kind of getting out of hand.

When you come home from work, what’s on the dinner table and does dining typically take place in a family setting?
A great example of happiness, when I come home, and the dinner table is filled with a home cooked meal prepared by my wife. What’s on the table doesn’t really matter of course Asian food is always a good idea but from time to time an old school Dutch meal is a great variation. I don’t like to eat alone but it sometimes happens when I come home late, but mostly we eat together with the family.

Do you ever travel to Asia? Where to and do see yourself ultimately ending up back (in Asia)?
I travel a couple of times a year to Asia. Mostly to Shanghai, Hong Kong and my parents’ hometown Wenzhou in the east of China.

Would I go back and settle in China? I don’t think so, maybe a couple of years for work, but I don’t see myself spending the rest of my life in Asia. I am to “white” to go back. People will always see me as a foreigner and the way we learned to do business and interact with each other is too different for me to really get used to.

As part of the founding members of the Leading Asian platform, we aim to create a new level of culturally boundless connectivity through one-of-a-kind experiences with our partner brands. In which direction do we need to take the platform to the specific tastes, preferences and ambitions of Leading Asians around the world?
It’s the first time a platform is created specifically and specially for the Asian community in this form, of course there are more platforms aimed on Asians but not like this one.

Now there is a platform where Asians who think alike and share the same interests in brands and lifestyle. Where they can express and share what they feel and think but also can discuss subjects and matters which interest them.

Leading Asians will be a platform where Asians can see and explore what other Asians around the world do and what occupies them in daily life.

Credits: Marinke Davelaar Photography

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