What was your first big break on TV? How were you discovered?
"Back in October 2002, I was just working in the restaurant [Billy Kwong in Sydney, Australia] as I did each day, trying to keep 400 things on the go, when the phone rang and it was the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. They said, 'Listen, would you be interested in having a meeting? We're looking for a new television presenter for next year's cooking series.' I don't even have a TV. I still don't have a TV; I don't watch TV. I had no intention of doing TV at all, but I just said, 'Okay, I'll have a meeting,' because I thought, New experience; it will be interesting to see what they have to say. Can't hurt. So I had a meeting with them the following week, and I was instantly taken with them, because they mentioned that they wanted to do a TV series with a difference. They wanted to do something that was multicultural Australia. And when they said that, I thought, I've got a lot of things to say about that, and it will be television with substance. So the fact that they said multicultural made me think, Well, that's really great, because I'm an Australian-born Chinese. I thought that would be interesting content. I had a lot to say about it. And then the next thing you know, I'm signing contracts, we're shooting the show, and then it went to air the following year."
Is there a large population of Chinese people in Australia?
"There are a lot of Chinese people in Australia, dotted all around the place. There is a very big Chinese influence here—very much in the food. There's so much Asian food in Australia. The Kwongs, my family, are the largest Chinese family in Australia. I'm 29th-generation Kwong, and I'm fifth-generation Australian. My parents were born here, so we're more Australian than many Australians. The whole Kwong story is in my book [Heart and Soul]. It's about my great-great-grandfather. He came to Australia in the gold-rush days. He had four Chinese wives and 24 children. And that's where I come from."
How did you end up on the Discovery Channel?
"We shot Series 1, which was called Heart and Soul, directly with the ABC. Then the second year, the Discovery Channel and the ABC went halves, basically, and got me to do another show. That's how I got on the Discovery Channel. It's on the Lifestyle Channel over here, then it gets sold to Discovery and all that. It's on Discovery and whatever all over the world."