Just ten diners at a time experience Ultraviolet’s immersive, multi-sensory approach to dining cigars on their outings. The aptly named ‘Wagyu simple’ – grilled ribeye with mash – is served alongside imagery of the Eiffel Tower, for the laid-back vibe of a Parisian bistro. Pairet, who cut his teeth across Europe and Asia, has lived in Shanghai since the 2000s. This restaurant is a partnership with Visual Orient Ltd, a Shanghai-based food and beverage group that runs high-end dining concepts. The Chinese city’s cosmopolitan nature conceivably played a role in the restaurant’s success, as did the timing; its opening – and the launch of the Michelin Guide in Shanghai, the first in Mainland China – coincided with a booming economy and flourishing high-end restaurant scene in the country. But how did a “French-but-not-so-French” place rise to the very top of the dining scene in a vast country already well known for its own native cuisine? Pairet suggests it could be down to the difference in cooking styles preferred by international reviewers such as the Michelin Guide. “The cooking at Chinese restaurants is epitomised by the shape of the wok,” he says. “It’s difficult to cook for one person. It’s not really the nature of that cooking.” That’s not to say that Chinese restaurants struggle to compete on the world stage – far from it. In the 11th edition of the Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide, of the ten restaurants awarded with three stars in these two Special Administrative Regions of China, five of them specialise in Chinese cuisine. Last year China’s online food delivery platform Meituan-Dianping launched its Black Pearl Restaurant Guide. Often referred to as the local answer “ ONE OF PAIRET’S MOST CELEBRATED DISHES IS BEIJING COCA-COLA DUCK. THE DISH TOOK HIM TEN YEARS TO PERFECT” to Michelin, Black Pearl reviews and awards ‘diamonds’ to restaurants. Of the 232 diamond-rated restaurants across China in the 2019 edition of the guide, 20 are three-diamond rated; Ultraviolet is one of these, too. Pairet says his restaurant probably benefits from its curiosity value to a Chinese guest, but readily admits that some dishes and their stories speak more to Western guests than Chinese ones. That hasn’t stopped him from creating dishes inspired by local flavours, or fusing unconventional popular elements with traditional fare. One of his most celebrated creations is ‘Beijing Coca-Cola duck’. Playing on Peking duck, “the most iconic Chinese recipe anywhere in the world”, it sees a roasted crispy duck lacquered with flavours of the soft drink. He says the dish took ten years to perfect. With so many aspects to and stories behind each dish, Pairet’s cooking is too multi-threaded to be classifed under a single cohesive narrative. “It’s not simply a matter of putting the best things together that creates the best team,” explains Pairet. “The essence of my cooking is the capacity to translate my memory into the plate.” 50 THE JAGUAR
FOOD Be it simple, rustic dishes or complex, unconventional creations, Pairet riffs on the notion of ‘psycho-taste’
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