Chef de Cuisine, Partner – Founder
“Ultraviolet” and “Mr & Mrs Bund”, Shanghai
Born and trained in France, Chef Paul Pairet runs two restaurants of widely different natures in Shanghai. A popular French modern eatery “Mr & Mrs Bund”, and an avant-garde, experimental restaurant “Ultraviolet”.
Pairet first came of notice at Paris's Cafe Mosaic
, where the influences of his wandering career – by that point, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Jakarta – began to crystallize into a French-but-not-French style all his own.
Critics talked of Mosaic and of Alain Ducasse's Spoon in equal terms. In fact, Pairet’s cooking at Mosaic made such an impression on Ducasse that it was the master chef himself who subsequently plucked Pairet out and arranged his next move: Istanbul. Pairet then took his talents to the Ritz-Carlton's Cam
, where he turned the hotel outfit into the city's first cutting-edge restaurant. He was to repeat the task in Shanghai.
Pairet came to the city in 2005 to open Jade on 36
, the flagship restaurant of the Shangri-La Hotel Pudong. Under his guidance and in three years only, he staked out an international reputation for his “highly personal and completely original cuisine: often exaggerated, highly technical plays on texture, temperature, and preconceived expectations
Where Pairet had formed the vocabulary – surprise, precision, wit, reduction
– the years at Jade on 36 saw him develop these into a fluent, singular cuisine that spoke on many levels. His food started conversations, inspired articles and collected awards. Jade on 36 became not another hotel restaurant, but a “beacon for sophisticated, avant-garde cuisine in Asia”
, and a destination for many.
Cooking, in part, to provoke and challenge, Pairet elicited ecstatic guest response from the moment Jade on 36 opened. The sentiment that his food was both exceptionally unique and essentially delicious echoed in media. Pairet’s rejection of rigid culinary convention won over gourmands and went to scoop numerous honors and awards, while his cuisine was profiled internationally.
Recent years have seen Pairet circle the earth to present his unique vision at gatherings of the world's culinary heavyweights. From San Sebastian's Lo Mejor de la Gastronomia
(The Best of Gastronomy) in 2007, Madrid Fusion
in 2008 – where, at both, Pairet was the sole Asia-based chef invited to speak – the World Gourmet Summit
2008 in Singapore, which saw him present a culinary master class, to the participation in December 2009 in the most acknowledged and cosmopolitan “Guest Chef Concept” by Ikarus of Hanger-7
and the latest OFF World Tour - Shanghai 2012
, Pairet continues to share with no reservations his belief and study in food.
In April 2009 Pairet brought to Shanghai “Mr & Mrs Bund – Modern Eatery by Paul Pairet
”. This French Eatery perched on the historic Bund, more significantly, is a quite different expression of the chef’s passion.
The theme this time is simplicity and popularity, a democratic flourish that embraces French favourites and classics
. Pairet has never been two things: 1. A stranger to simple, popular dishes, and 2. Easy to classify. With Mr & Mrs Bund, Pairet has tailored a populist concept of sharing simple & well-executed dishes to both critical and popular success. It is French, in the way Pairet himself is -- born, traveled, globally stamped, and stubbornly perfectionist
Within four months of opening, That’s Shanghai declared Mr & Mrs Bund the “Best French” restaurant in the city. Since then, it has gone on collecting a slew of awards and international accolades, including the recent No. 95 in the World’s Best Restaurants by Restaurant magazine UK in 2012, and No. 7 in Asia, No. 1 in China by “The Miele Guide 2011/2012”.
Has this popular French eatery been a u-turn for the "Avant-Garde" chef?
Definitely. But only until Ultraviolet
Conceived by Pairet for 15 years and supported by his long-time back-up VOL group, “Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet” is the first restaurant of its kind attempting to unite food with multi-sensorial technologies, in order to create a fully immersive dining experience.
Ultraviolet project was first presented to the world in 2010’s OFF5 French Omnivore Food Festival
in Deauville. After 3 years of making, it has opened in May 2012, somewhere in Shanghai.
In short, a single table of 10, a 20-course avant-garde set menu, 5 senses, and a fully immersive dining experience. Supported by the multi sensorial technologies, each course is enhanced with its own taste-tailored atmosphere, including visual, audio and olfactory compositions. Almost instantly, Ultraviolet wows Shanghai, and has been blessed with passionate reviews from the diners, trade and critics. It has been described as a culinary destination just weeks after its official launch.
“C'est magnifique et delicieux!
” wrote Alain Ducasse, perhaps is the best sum-up of what Ultraviolet is presenting. Like this experimental, avant-garde project, Pairet could be “turbulent, unpredictable, unconventional
” for some even in the culinary world. “In the end”, says Pairet, “It is the feeling, emotion that evoked by the dish that counts”.
Whether using tinned sardines to produce sophisticated, avant-garde fine dining, or using sophisticated, avant-garde techniques to produce the simplest of French dishes, Paul Pairet is a culinary egalitarian.
He approaches cooking, ingredients, techniques, textures and flavors with an equal lack of prejudice and unbiased opinion without regard for national boundaries or ‘class’ devoid of context, and reputation.
Pairet calls this the “newborn eye”: tasting something as if it was being tasted for the first time, and perceiving without discrimination.
“A tinned sardine” is not a lesser sardine than a fresh one, but simply a different product. He insists, that foie gras is not intrinsically more suited to fine dining than a piece of bread, or a truffle more interesting than the Coca Cola.
There is no “better” or “worse” when it comes to flavor, there is simply a universe of flavors, a palette of differences to paint with liberal doses of imagination.
“Above all flavors should taste divine, assertive, sending taste buds into raptures, and the mind traveling on a bite through countries or found memories”.
Aside flavors, Pairet plays with texture and smell, he tricks the eye, cracks jokes in dishes, challenges pre-conceived ideas, and expectations, makes you think for a second: Wonder how? Wonder why?
He designs and wraps dishes in eye-catching, conversation-stopping, plain beautiful presentations.
A single noodle, presented in a concentric circle, made of fresh cuttlefish. A beef short rib, glistening on an over-sized bone. A lemon tart appears as a whole edible lemon…
The former scientist student has a simple philosophy: “a dish is ready when there is nothing left to add or take away. A dish could be: interesting, new, daring — perhaps shocking — beautiful, maybe comforting, even funny, but always good.”
With revealing Ultraviolet
, Pairet returns to his author’s cuisine, yet, a 20-course meal lends to a blend of experimentation and comfort, of avant-garde and simplicity.
It is Avant-Garde, yes, but figurative Avant-Garde, not abstract: with flesh and bone!