In the old town, a few steps from Yi Chun Street, Sami and Vanessa Verho have launched their fourth Chef’s Choice meat shop and deli. It’s opposite Green Earth Society in Tak Lung Back St near where Phat Shack used to be. The fit-out features dark wood paneling and fridges so big they nearly reach the ceiling. Above the counter a bold sign proclaims: “Eat whatever you want and, if anyone tries to lecture you on your weight, eat them too.”
Sami and Vanessa have been married for five years. They met in Hong Kong when he was Operations Manager at Igor’s Group. He is Finnish while she is Colombian-Chinese.
Just two years ago they opened the first Chef’s Choice meat shop and deli. Now there are four of them: Ma Wan, Discovery Bay, Tung Chung and Sai Kung.
How has such rapid growth been financed? Sami said it’s organic. Sales at each new store have taken off and as the shops do not need a lot of space fit-out costs have been paid off quickly.
The Sai Kung market for meat and delicatessen products is competitive. How do they plan to differentiate themselves?
“Quality, variety and value,” Sami said. He explains: “All our red meats arrive chilled. Our salmon is never frozen. We get fresh deliveries several times a week. All our fresh foods are vacuum packed so you can keep them in your fridge for up to a week.” On value he says their prices are 20 to 50% cheaper than the medium and high-end supermarkets (examples below). Variety? Chef’s Choice has prime cut steaks, fresh, marinated and smoky meats, sausages and bacon, poultry and seafood, wines, cheeses and cold cuts. Outside facing Tak Lung Back Street there is a patio with high tables and 14 seats. Here you can sample the wines and tuck into classic sandwiches such as Cubano, Pulled Pork, Banh Mi, Philly Cheese Steak and many more. These are made while you watch in a kitchen that shows Finnish fastidiousness.
Asked to select examples of his store’s food quality and value, Sami chose four:
— FRESH NORWEGIAN SALMON at $230 a kilo.
In a supermarket you will pay over $330 a kilo, Sami said, and the fish will not be as fresh. Smoked salmon is $33 per 100 grams and it is salmon that has never been frozen.
— SAUSAGES manufactured in Hong Kong by an Austrian Master Butcher at $48 to $98 a half-kilo pack.
“These are incomparable to the preservative-ridden products you will find in supermarkets.”
— BRAZILIAN FROZEN CHICKEN at $49 a kilo.
“This is one of our biggest sellers”. Each pack contains four to five breasts while supermarket packs typically include half that quantity.
— AUSTRALIAN GRASS-FED FILLET MIGNON at $428 a kilo.
Supermarket prices, by comparison, likely to be $550 to $700, he said. Many Chef’s Choice foods are made specially for the company and cannot be found anywhere else. All are sourced from farms and distributors with health certificates. Sami says there is an added bonus: People who make purchases of “any decent size” will be given a free black and scarlet Chef’s Choice cooler bag.
Facebook: Chef’s Choice HK