LGBT Celebrity Chef Kylie Kwong to Close Down Iconic Restaurant

LGBT Celebrity Chef Kylie Kwong to Close Down Iconic Restaurant
Image: Source: Lucky Kwong

This story first appeared on City Hub. You can read the story here.

Renowned Australian chef Kylie Kwong announced this morning that she will be closing down her inner-Sydney restaurant, Lucky Kwong, and walking away from the restaurant industry for good.

The Australian-Cantonese eatery in South Eveleigh will make its exit from the dining stage at the end of June.

Speaking to Australian Story, the 55 year old said, “I’ve been running my own restaurants — Billy Kwong and Lucky Kwong — for 24 years and cooking professionally for more than 30 years.”

“I just feel like it’s the right time. I have given this piece of my life everything I can give it.”

“There is sadness around this decision, of course, because it’s three decades of my life. But I also feel an excitement because another door is opening, as only it does when we close one door.”

Kylie Kwong a local LGBT icon

One of the most prominent faces in Australian cuisine, Kylie Kwong is also a certified lesbian icon and key advocate for the local LGBTQI+ community.

Kwong has shared her equally heartbreaking and inspiring coming-out story publicly, and has been happily married to her partner Nell since 2019.

Furthermore, she has used her love of food as a catalyst for social change and advocacy – she has worked with the Addison Road Community Organisation, Two Good Co, and The Wayside Chapel in Australia, as well as being Parabere Forum’s Australian correspondent.

For her work, Kylie was named one of Sydney WorldPride’s 10 Rainbow Champions in 2023 for her contributions to the Australian LGBTQI+ community.

Kylie one of the first female chefs to rise to prominence

Kwong, who is not only a trailblazing chef but also author and presenter, has long been celebrated for her take on home-style Cantonese cooking mixed with native Australian ingredients.

“Integrating Australian native produce into our Cantonese-style food literally revolutionised our menu and viewpoint of the world,” she said.

Her pioneering menu saw native saltbush being used in dumplings, Davidson plums served with roast duck, inspiring other Australian chefs to explore indigenous ingredients.

One of the first female chefs to rise to prominence in the nation’s fine-dining scene, Kwong first became known after doing a 6-year apprenticeship with Neil Perry at his signature restaurants Rockpool and Wokpool in the ’90s.

In 2000, she opened her acclaimed restaurant Billy Kwong alongside the late Bill Granger. The restaurant, originally in Surry Hills, later moved to Potts Point. It was closed down in 2019.

Last year, Kwong was appointed a member of the Order of Australia.

In her Instagram announcement – “I am hanging up my restaurateur hat” – Kwong said she now wanted to use her food background to become more involved with social enterprises and charity organisations. As she puts it, “a continuation of my lifelong passion for food, art, culture and connection.”

“Through the lens of food and interconnectedness, I wish to place all my energy, focus and time into helping share and amplify other people’s stories, particularly the important voices of First Nations people and our multicultural communities, who make Australia the rich and diverse country it is today.”

But first? A good amount of time to “relax and reflect,” said the chef.

Kwong says Australian hospitality facing challenges

Though she made reference to the current challenges facing the hospitality industry, which has seen many beloved restaurants close its doors, Kwong asserted that this was only a minor part of her decision.

“For all the many challenges that come with being in the hospitality industry, I consider myself fortunate for I have had far more positive experiences than negative,” she said.

“Everyone is feeling it. I have never seen the restaurant industry in such tough times as it is right now.”

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