(An excerpt from The Chronicle Journal, April 18, 2001, by Kelly Leydier.)

With sea slugs and soup flavoured with a swallow’s saliva on the menu, Hong Kong is the place to be for food lovers, says chef Tim Matthews. “I know that sounds absolutely horrible, but from a culinary standpoint, it’s exciting,” Matthews said in a recent interview.

Culinary management students from his Confederation College class will see how such mouth-watering treats are prepared and perhaps take a stab at them themselves when they travel to Hong Kong for the last two weeks of their final semester. Nineteen students, along with four from the college’s hotel management program, will spend six days working in various restaurants between April 20 and May 7. Three of the restaurants are owned by Chris Lenz, originally from Thunder Bay.

About 10 other students chose to work in Florida for their placement. “It’s important you see something other than Northwestern Ontario,” said Matthews, who is a professor at the college. “Seeing other cooking styles allows students to build their own repertoires and develop their own style,” he said.

Past students have travelled to Italy, Mexico, and England, but Matthews said Hong Kong is the most exciting destination to date. “For myself, the food is a little bit more exciting,” he said. “They’ve got this chewy, gristly texture we’re not used to. They do things with tofu that we don’t do here.”

Fusion cooking, or combining eastern and western cooking styles, is trendy, student Rob Briden said. “Now we’re getting to see the east side,” he said.

Students will work in kitchens larger than any in Thunder Bay, Matthews said.