Cook, presenter, author and occasional DJ Khanh Ong has transcended our screens (from his iconic MasterChef era) to land on our kitchen benchtops in his rollicking book debut: A Gay Guy’s Guide to Life, Love, Food.
Khanh’s presence is felt through the pages, narrating an upbringing embedded with flavour, culture, identity and – at times – immense struggle. Whether your own copy is splashed with chilli oil or the occasional tear, this deeply personal take on the conventional cookbook will feed your soul with honesty, recipes and hilarities.
You’ve probably seen Khanh out on the events circuit, helming The George or schmoozing with some very cool fashion sets and other creative talents. Somehow, we stole a moment from his diverse schedule last week at Harrolds on Collins Street for a serendipitous mid-morning styling session.
Harrolds and Khanh share a powerful mutual belief: expression via dressing (or the other modes of cultural creativity that captivate us) can be one of the most powerful ways to come into our own.
Here, we immortalise the moment, revelling in Khanh’s outlandish outfittings, and his journey to establish such an unrivalled sense of self.
This deeply personal take on the conventional cookbook will feed your soul with honesty, recipes and hilarities.
Khanh! How are you? What’s happening in your world right now? Give us the lowdown on the last week in your life…
Hello! It’s been a big couple of weeks but I’m feeling good. My world right now is a little wild, between my restaurant – The George on Collins, food shoots, collabs and trying to maintain some sort of fitness regime, let’s say it’s been hard. This last week I’ve had to create and cook two bespoke menus for tastings at the restaurant for some clients, I’ve spent a day shooting and cooking 9 dishes for content, I’ve had 4 pilates classes, 2 yoga and 3 PT sessions ( I need this to balance out the food), a fitting for some new outfits with Effie Kats, I catered and cooked an event for the carlton presidents club on game and also snuck in a cheeky date to boot!
How has your personal style evolved (or devolved) in the last twelve months – given lockdowns, life revival, work events etc?
My style has changed a lot. Comfort is now of utmost importance, I’m usually in looks that are more transitional from day to night these days, I’m all about earthy, muted tones during the week but for the special event or dinner bring on the colour, bring on the all-most offensive mix of textures and prints.
Who are some go-to designers (local or international) that you identify with?
Designers I’m all over right now are Acne, Balenciaga and Venroy for being casual, more laid-back, effortless but still chic. For the more playful days, Marni and dries van noten. So bold, fun and just makes me feel happy. The dream would be to live in Lardini, the cuts and colour palette are a major vibe.
How do you dress for the kitchen when entertaining at home?
At home it really depends on the theme. Is it a sit down for 12? If so, I need opulence and a tea towel on the shoulder. For a dinner of 6 as a catch up, I’m into clean, muted tones, nothing too fussy. Give me a nice oversized tee with straight cut jeans or a turtle neck (Caruso have very cute ones) with nice tailored trousers and I’m set.
And what about for a winter’s night out in Melbourne?
Layering, picture this, a gorg pair of boots (Balenciaga have a really good combat is one right now) jeans tucked into them loosely, a slick collared shirt untucked, a light knit and a coat preferably in grey or camel. These two colours in tailoring make everything look super chic.
A dining destination in Melbourne every Harrolds reader should try now?
Obviously The George on Collins, My restaurant is in the old Georges building, one of the first high end department stores in Melbourne I think it was YSL’s first Australian location, we do share style south east asian.
What’s on the cards for you in work and life this year? Anything big in the pipeline?
This year for me is about getting all my ducks in a row, setting myself and the restaurant up so I can get to the point of expanding. I would love another venue in the inner suburbs though next.
How do you hope to harness the revived freedoms of 2021?
I’m super keen on traveling again, I do miss it immensely, being able to shop in new cities and eat at new restaurants, bring it on.
Most treasured wardrobe mainstay of the moment?
I recently got a watch that I’m obsessed with, it brings everything together, the same way the perfect bag or pair of shoes does. It’s my new baby and I’m in love.