When Christian Yenko quit his job as amount merchant at hedge fund Segantii Capital Management in Hong Kong in April, he decided it was time to pursue his passion for cooking at the most prestigious cooking school in the world.
Yenko has non-competition clause typical of many large hedge funds, but rather than spending it on the beach, he applied to the Cordon Bleu school in Paris.
The 29-year-old wanted to broaden his horizons and temporarily escape Hong Kong’s draconian quarantine laws, so he embarked on a crash course.
Yenko was born in the Philippines, raised in Singapore, and earned a degree in computer science from Northwestern University in Chicago. He began his career as a Delta One quant at Morgan Stanley before joining Segantii in Hong Kong where he spent four years, the last two as head of quantitative developmentoverseeing a large team of people in its offices in London, Hong Kong and New York.
“I have always enjoyed cooking in a personal context, hosting weekly dinner parties for friends and colleagues where I prepared a tasting menu. Longer term, the goal is to own a vineyard and other catering businesses,” he told eFinancialCareers.
After being accepted into the intensive course at the Cordon Bleu school for his cooking diploma, Yenko was immediately launched into two months of 10-hour days under the guidance of Michelin-starred chefs.
“I’ve noticed that there are strong parallels between trading and cooking in a professional kitchen. Both environments are intense and high-octane, and both in the kitchen and in the business you have to multitask,” says Yenko. “In a kitchen, you perform five different workflows, preparing dishes with many components while ensuring that they are prepared to the highest standards at the right time. On the court, you absorb so much information in real time and observe many different transactions at the same time.
Yenko has passed his first module and has the option of pursuing an internship in a fine dining restaurant if he completes the eight-month course. But he remains a trader at heart and will resume his career in finance. “Cooking is something that I consider a second interest for later in life. My first love is the intersection of IT and financial markets.
He says he is moving back to Hong Kong, where there are still plenty of hedge fund openings. “Trading automation in more traditional houses and the expansion of existing quantitative trading businesses means we are seeing more opportunities for quantitative traders,” says Yenko.
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