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Photo by Charly Ho
by Mona Bavar
As the son of restauranteurs and hoteliers, Wai-Ming Lung is no stranger to eating and drinking well. This Parisian-based connoisseur of taste has spent years discovering the hidden jewels of the culinary world. His adventures have been blogged in Orgyness, the visually intoxicating magazine dedicated to the 'art of living without moderation'.
His passion and creativity have given birth to a new adventure, Petrichor a creative agency for food, wine and spirits. Here Lung works with a team of like-minded experts to create exclusive tasting events for brands such as Dom Perignon, Rémy Martin and others. The most recent event was held in a private loft in Paris for the launch of the 21-year-old Aberlour, featuring the cuisine of Chef Amandine Chaignot.
Mona Bavar: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Wai-Ming Lung: I was born in Hong Kong and made in France, which means that I carry both cultures and spend most of my life in Europe. After studying at ENSAD, more commonly known as Arts Décoratifs, I worked as a fashion stylist in Haute Couture and luxury RTW with people like Christian Lacroix, Joseph or Alber Elbaz.
After my time as a stylist, I decided to move to advertising where I worked as Creative Director at BBDO, specializing in digital communication. This led me to manage the creative departments of various 4A's agencies such as Ogilvy and DDB. As a result of working with major players in the digital industry, I was inspired to test new media tools and as a result, to become one of the first Food Blogger in France, around 2005. From there, my time was shared between my regular job and a growing enthusiasm for food tasting and writing.
MB: Where did the inspiration for Orgyness come from?
WML: My first blog was called Mr Lung, my last name, and after a few years of blogging, I lost the competitive advantage of being a total stranger when stepping into a new restaurant. For years, I had refused every single invitation and would rather pay for my meals for the sake of objectivity, unlike most journalists. Yet it had become trickier and trickier. I then had the choice between writing for another media - but my ambition was never to be a journalist - or to start something different with a whole team of food and wine enthusiasts with complementary skills, and to build our own online media. Which was eventually my choice, so I did everything from the naming, to the art direction, the graphic design, the shootings, the photo editing, the video production, etc.
One precision though: Orgyness is still online but is no longer maintained, I am now focusing on food and wine consulting with my agency Petrichor.
MB: What does Orgyness mean?
WML: Orgyness is a neologism based on the word orgy. People often think of it as a sexual party, however the etymology says something quite different: an orgy is a celebration of antique gods such as Bacchus or Dionysus, in which there was dancing, drinking, eating and singing. Subsequently, Orgyness means eating, drinking, or indulging without restraint. You are in charge and responsible. The opposite of what the politically correct society is telling you. I like the quote from the late Anthony Bourdain who said "your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park".
Dumplings by Vong Vai Kuan
MB: Have you always been passionate about food and wine?
WML: My parents used to run hotels and restaurants, so I grew up in that environment although I wasn't necessarily passionate about it. All I knew was how hard the job was, both mentally and physically. Somehow, I had to travel often for work during my ‘Mad Men’ years, and always enjoyed a good meal wherever I flew, so by the time social networks such as ASMALLWORLD started blossoming, I found it interesting to dig deeper, and to share my experiences.
Writing was always easy, even when it came to writing chefs' books, but it's only in the last few years that I took wine more seriously. I got my WSET certification, started giving conferences, teaching in business schools, consulting for wine and spirit brands... it's actually quite a journey, fuelled by curiosity and nurtured passion.
MB: How important is it for you to make a statement with your work? What is the statement?
WML: It's not a statement, rather like a mind-set. We live in a world of fake and shallowness, and as an ad man, I contribute to this world. However, I want to defend what I find good and authentic, and it doesn't need to be a brand. My local boulangerie versus Nestlé, it's like David vs Goliath, but it's worth fighting for.
MB: What is your favourite dish & wine pairing?
WML: I have no favourite dishes or pairing, nor do I have a favourite restaurant or wine. It's a question of mood, weather... and whom you are sharing these good things with. Although, you may want to try a glass of Plenitude 2 by Dom Pérignon paired with a simple spoon of crushed black chocolate, mixed with some fruity olive oil and fleur de sel. It's one of the first pairings I designed for Dom Pérignon, and I still feel it on the tip of the tongue.
MB: Where is home? Do you identify more as a French or Chinese?
WML: Paris is my home, because it's where I live, but my heart will always be in Hong Kong. Otherwise I could live in any country where the food and wine are good.
MB: Are you worried about how COVID-19 will impact the food and wine industry?
WML: The impact is unfathomable in these industries that mostly rely on tourism, social gathering and sharing. On the other hand, it's time we all realised that the pandemic is a global issue and no one will escape unscathed. I organise private dinners for spirit brands, and all the events were of course cancelled until further notice. Hence, we need to be ready when things get better. It is also now obvious that COVID-19 is the biggest trigger for digital transformation for any industry.
MB: How are you dealing with lockdown and social distancing?
WML: I am a lucky man because I am still an art director, so I can keep working from home. I also have an artistic project, so I am quite busy at the moment. The rest of the time, I spend cooking and working out, which is a bit frustrating because I am regular boxer, so I miss having sparring partners, but it's only a matter of time, no?
MB: What do you think the ‘new world’ post COVID-19 will look like?
WML: It might sound pessimistic, but I don't believe there will be a new world. Although I find it rather beneficial that people eventually get some time to reflect on what they are, and who they want to be. But for most, I'm afraid they just want to get back to their "normal life" again, which cannot be a good thing.
MB: Any messages you want to share with our readers?
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
he who can call today his own,
he who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Click here to learn more about Wai-Ming Lung