Head chef Paulo joins Ritz-Carlton team
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,
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.”