A Shining Time: The Gafencu Gala Ball and Excellence Awards 2016

This year, Gafencu’s Gala Dinner once again returned to Hong Kong’s Conrad Hotel, with the 4 November event a celebration of both the magazine’s 10th anniversary and the setting for the second annual Gafencu Awards.

The night of glitz and glamour kicked off with the arrival of a series of star-studded guests, many of whom had clearly taken the night’s Time to Shine tagline to heart. Amid a blinding array of paparazzi and cameramen, a veritable who’s who of local and international glitterati, socialites and power brokers made their way down the red carpet, each swathed in a dazzling array of designer dresses, sequins and dinner jackets, all at the very height of fashion. Among the VIPs in attendance were the South Korean actress Clara Lee and Hong Kong’s very own Joyce Cheng, just two of a truly glittering assemblage.

After enjoying a customary welcome cocktail or two, the 400 specially invited guests were all seated in the immaculately decorated ball room, awash in the glow of candelabras and colourful centre pieces. They were then welcomed by the evening’s divinely charming MCs – Luisa Leitao and Linda Kennedy. After a brief introduction, the two elegant ladies took a little time to highlight Gafencu magazine’s recent evolution from a solely men’s magazine to a publication that caters for everyone.

After 10 years of being the leading publication for the most successful, affluent and discerning men in Hong Kong and mainland China, Gafencu now also serves the growing number of successful and high-profile women in its two core territories. Starting from the November issue, Gafencu has welcomed in a new legion of readers – the stylish, sophisticated, hugely confident, elegantly competent women who – side-byside, arm-in-arm – with the continent’s most eligible, most entrepreneurial males have seen Asia take the global centre stage in the early years of the 21st century.

Of course none of this would be remotely possible if it were not for the expertise, diligence and guidance of Lina Ross Mohindar, Gafencu’s CEO. After being introduced by Linda and Luisa, Lina took the stage to say a few words, before being joined by the hard working team behind Gafencu magazine for a joyous toast to the future. Integral to the evening were of course the generous sponsors who made the entire event possible – Antiquorum Auctioneers, Dedon Asia Pacific Limited, Élévatione, Greens Kitchen & Juicery, Godiva Chocolatier (Asia) Ltd, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Luisa Leitao, Michael Kors, Remy Martin, Ventris and last – but not least – Omtis Fine Wines,
provider of the delicious line up of wines that accompanied the evening’s gourmet five-course meal.

As the first of the evening’s delectable courses was completed, it was time to turn to the evening’s main feature. While it was Time to Shine for all the glamorous guests in attendance in celebrating the magazine’s 10th anniversary as Hong Kong’s premier luxury lifestyle magazine, it was also an opportunity to recognise and reward six extraordinary individuals courtesy of the second annual Gafencu Awards.

Although the six winners worked in very different fields, they all had one thing in common — the noteworthy contribution they have made to Hong Kong society.


The first winner on the night was Mike Hill, co-founder, festival director and CEO of the Clockenflap music festival, who was awarded in the Cultural Endeavour category. Mike was honoured – along with and on behalf of his fellow cofounders – for having organised the Clockenflap culture, arts and music festival since 2008. The event, now seen as the absolute highlight of Hong Kong’s annual musical calendar, grew from a crowd of 1,500 in its first year to attracting more than 60,000 people in 2015.


From music and arts to good Samaritans, the second winner on the night was Christina Strong, who won the Charity award (Charity Most Excellent Award) in recognition of her tireless work in raising awareness of rare diseases through the Joshua Hellmann Foundation in order to help needy children in Hong Kong. The foundation is named after Christina’s son Joshua, who died from Melas Syndrome in 2007.


The third award of the night went to Jennifer Liu, founder of JWF International and Sir Hudson Hospitality,
the organisation behind Habitu and the Coffee Academics. It was no surprise to see Jennifer pick up the Hospitality award (Hospitality Excellent Award) for her hospitality empire, which now extends to some 30 eateries and employs more than 500 staff in Hong Kong and abroad.


The fourth winner, Daniel Chan, walked away with the award in one of the most fiercely contested categories — the Entrepreneur of the year (Entrepreneur Most Excellent Award). Daniel has more than 20 years of experience in the luxury watch industry and is famous for bringing Cartier to China. In his role as founder and managing director of Paragon International, Daniel has overall responsibility for more than 40 Cartier points of sales and several other luxury watch brands outlets across mainland China and Hong Kong.


This year, the Legacy category (Legacy Most Excellent Award) was won by a well-known name, a woman whose business acumen and willingness to give back to society are almost legendary. Sabrina Fung started her career at the Fung Group back in 2000, when she was initially employed as an investment manager at the family’s private investment arm. She is now the Group Managing Director of Fung Retailing Limited.She is also a director of Macy’s China, a joint venture between Macy’s and Fung Retailing.


The final award went to a truly astonishing woman, one who has given hope to millions of people through her tireless work to combat cancer. Rossa Chiu was the hugely popular winner of the Medical Sciences award (Medical Most Excellent Award) for her work in developing a blood test that can detect certain cancers at a very early stage, helping to bring hope and a fighting chance to many across the world. Congratulations again to all of the deserving winners who so graciously accepted their awards and shared a few inspirational words with the audience.

No respectable Gala Dinner, of course, would be completewithout a healthy dose of entertainment and revelry, something that was more than ably ignited by Joyce Cheng, the ever charming Hong Kong actress and singer, who wowed the crowd with a selection of her favourite songs, featuring a mix of Cantonese hits and Western classics.

As the more formal part of the evening was drawing to a close, the lovely MCs took the time to thank the amazing staff at the Conrad, who undoubtedly made the evening one that will long be remembered. Of course this did not necessarily mean the end of the night for many of the guests as the band once again struck up some jazzy tunes, cueing further revelry, dancing and merriment late into the night.

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