Above: French chef Frederic Boucault.
Regal Hongkong Hotel’s fine dining Italian restaurant Zeffirino Ristorante is set to open its kitchen to French chef Frederic Boucault as part of an event called ‘Balade Gourmande’ (which translates to gourmet trail in French) from June 27 to July 8.
Described as “pure, unique, and balanced,” Boucault’s cuisine is a blend of tradition and innovation. Throughout the years, he has prepared his masterpieces at a number of renowned restaurants including Michelin-starred establishments such as Le Paris of Hotel Lutetia in France.
DestinAsian caught up with Boucault for a quick chat about what makes a great chef and current trends in international cuisine.
Firstly, what do you think makes a great chef?
A good chef knows how to engage his guests. He or she is able to not only understand what they want on their plate, but also to surprise them. When guests leave the table, they should feel that they have just shared an unforgettable culinary moment.
You have worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants. Is there a dish that still stands out to you?
A crusty marinated seabass with a smoked ratte potato cream served with spicy juice truffle is an example of a perfect dual dish where the (masculine) spicy flavors are softened by the (feminine) touch of smoked ratte potato cream and melting seabass.
What’s your cooking style? What makes it unique?
I love to enhance the taste of high quality products by matching different flavors. I play with different textures to excite the taste buds while maintaining the harmony and balance in a dish. My feelings, personal view, and experience are always reflected in my creations.
Guests and gourmets go to eat at a fine dining restaurant because they expect something very unique to that particular establishment. I do my best to deliver that.
What are the current trends in international fine cuisine?
After the recent popularity of molecular gastronomy, which was considered very innovative but also criticized for not being respectful to the ingredients, chefs are returning to basics. This new trend focuses on the products rather than the method of preparation. I call it “gastronomic cuisine.”
What is now essential is finding the right balance. It is important to be innovative but also do justice to the products used in the creation of the dish.
Finally, what have you got planned for ‘Balade Gourmande’ in Hong Kong?
I will be introducing a series of contemporary French dishes and a six course dinner menu, with highlights such as Canadian lobster salad with lomo and sun-dried tomato, and crispy seabass of Bretagne with herring caviar. The set lunch menu will focus on French dishes with an Italian twist.