Head chef Paulo joins Ritz-Carl­ton team

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HOSPITALITY - By YE JUN yejun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chef Paulo De Souza, the newly ap­pointed ex­ec­u­tive chef of The RitzCarl­ton Bei­jing, Fi­nan­cial Street, be­lieves that din­ner is like a con­ver­sa­tion with guests. It should go up and down, rise and fall, giv­ing some space, and cre­ate a di­a­logue.

The food “can’t al­ways be so strong”, he said.

“Start with some­thing that’s not com­mon, catch their at­ten­tion, keep them in­ter­ested, and then give them a break with a mild fla­vor, and some­thing they are fa­mil­iar with.”

At a re­cent tast­ing, the sur­prise fac­tor in the ap­pe­tizer was an oys­ter wrapped in a crispy flour shell, dot­ted with nuts and served with two sauces. Ap­pe­tiz­ing, it evoked cu­rios­ity, as you couldn’t tell im­me­di­ately what the in­gre­di­ents were.

The fol­low­ing blue lob­ster, with bur­rata cheese and egg­plant, had an in­ter­est­ing fruit gelatin on top. The grilled sea bass had an as­sort­ment of mas­car­pone ravi­oli, let­tuce sauce, ca­pers pow­der and even a few pieces of fish maw in it.

The meal was wrapped up by a pomelo and pas­sion fruit dessert, with co­conut and peanut, of­fer­ing lay­ers of sweet and sour tastes, and a crunchy, chew­ing sen­sa­tion. A meal like this is both grat­i­fy­ing and in­ter­est­ing for the diner.

At 42 years old, De Souza said his style is “in­ter­na­tional and per­sonal”, re­flect­ing where he came from and where he has been.

De Souza was born in Peru and grew up in Spain. He has worked in Barcelona, Lon­don, Bei­jing and Dubai. If he talks on, you’ll find his trav­els around the world also took him to South Amer­ica, Ger­many and New Zealand.

The chef has more than 20 years of culi­nary and kitchen man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence. He gained three mas­ter’s de­grees in culi­nary arts at schools in­clud­ing Le Cor­don Bleu Paris in France.

He worked in sev­eral Miche­lin starred restau­rants, in­clud­ing now­closed El Bulli, which had three stars, near Barcelona, Spain, and Restau­rant Gor­don Ram­say, which has three

When you are in­ter­ested in cook­ing, you like to ex­plore.” Paulo De Souza,

Roundup

stars in Lon­don, the United King­dom.

But, he said the most im­por­tant in­flu­ence came from Barcelona, where “the chefs gave me a re­ally hard time”.

The chef worked with Gor­don Ram­say around 2007. “They were very play­ful”, he re­called. “They changed the way I look at food — it’s not just what you eat to keep warm, but to touch your senses. They call it ‘tech­nomo­tional’. But it needs to be, above all, de­li­cious.”

It is the sec­ond time the chef has come to China, the last time be­ing in 2010. De Souza has been in Bei­jing for two months and he’s busy pre­par­ing new dishes for the ho­tel.

He said he would like to have tra­di­tional Chi­nese dishes at the ho­tel’s Qi Chi­nese restau­rant, and au­then­tic Ital­ian foods at its Ital­ian restau­rant, Cepe.

In his spare time, the chef said he likes to go out and try dif­fer­ent foods. “When you are in­ter­ested in cook­ing, you like to ex­plore,” he said.

His fa­vorite Chi­nese foods in­clude Pek­ing roast duck, Sichuan spicy bean curd, kung pao chicken, and Yun­nan-style fried minced pork with herbs.

De Souza said he finds many Chi­nese foods have a lot of umami, the sa­vory taste. He added he likes the sea bass here, the Sichuan pep­per with its unique numb­ness, Chi­nese mush­rooms, and roots from Yun­nan.

“There are still a lot of things I want to learn,” he said. “I’d like to cook like a Chi­nese chef.”

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