How was Pharrell when he came to Yardbird in Hong Kong?
Matt Abergel on the stars he’s impressed by and the ones he’s a bit meh about - you may be surprised. . .
Yardbird is pretty much the most happening restaurant in Hong Kong right now. Which is why we just published a book - Chicken and Charcoal - on the place with it's founder and head chef Matt Abergel.
As you'd expect, when something is this hot everyone who's anyone wants to get a table there. So Matt gets a lot of requests, begging emails and the occasional walk up from some of the highest profile faces on the planet.
A few weeks back Pharrell turned up and sampled the menu's yakitori specials. Was Matt starstruck, a bit, yes, but not in the way you might expect - certainly not as much as when his skateboard heroes pop in.
"It’s funny because I don’t really give a shit about celebrities! We also don’t pay that much attention to them. I think that’s something that sometimes they like. He (Pharrell) was appreciative and nice. He walked into the kitchen on his own and went up to every chef and thanked them. Just a really nice guy.
"I get more excited when it’s for me professional skateboarders or artists that I know. A guy named Keith Hufnagel and a guy named Kien Lieu, his nickname is The Donger - people who I was in awe of when I was skating a lot. When they came I was like: I can’t believe he’s here! We had a party with Vans and Steve Alba, Christian Hosoi and Ray Barbee all played a music set in the restaurant. Those kinds of moments I’m like what the fuck is going on?!"
At Yardbird Hong Kong, Matt has created a restaurant built on the interaction between amazing poeple of all kinds. it's a vibe that was in his mind from the outset and something that continues to attract all kinds of creative people from Hong Kong and beyond. Or, as Matt self-depracatingly puts it: "Our restaurant has way more amazing people coming through the door than shitheads."
"We have a huge community of people who are regular customers, bi-weekly sometimes tri-weekly. The beauty of Hong Kong is that it’s a very transient place. There are all different types of people but the people who tend to come to us are very creative. They may be designers of shoes and are going to the factories and spending three or four days in the factories of south China and they’re just exhausted. So we’re their respite when they come back from China.
"We see these people once every three months for years and we call them transient regulars. They’re amazing because they’re so happy to be there and taken care of. Then there are the people we meet over the years who we get to collaborate with. That’s been an amazing experience. At the end of the day what we really wanted in the restaurant was this community of people who seemingly had nothing in common but we bridge parts of our lives. And we have it."
More from Matt to come on Phaidon.com but if you like what you here head into the store now and buy Chicken and Charcoal.