small talk

The city’s Best New Chef, Xavier Boyer, tells Char­maine Mok over a cup of milk tea how he’s been get­ting the flavour of Hong Kong

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents -

Gaddi’s Xavier Boyer, named Best New Chef of 2016, tells how he’s been get­ting the flavour of Hong Kong

Ev­ery year, the team be­hind the Hong Kong Tatler Best Restau­rants guide chews over the stand­out din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of the pre­vi­ous 12 months and de­cides who is wor­thy of the ti­tle Best New Chef. The 2016 win­ner has just been an­nounced as Xavier Boyer, the French chef who took the helm at Gaddi’s this year, breath­ing new life into the his­toric restau­rant at The Penin­sula and se­cur­ing its place on our Top 20 list af­ter a two-year ab­sence. Boyer did an ap­pren­tice­ship at Joël Robu­chon’s L’as­tor in Paris be­fore mak­ing his mark in four cities at Robu­chon restau­rants—in Paris, Lon­don, New York and Taipei. His dishes may bear the hall­marks of Robu­chon’s re­fined style, but Boyer’s “mod­ern clas­sic” cook­ing is even more pared back, al­low­ing sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents to bask in their nat­u­ral flavours. What’s the first thing you do when you ar­rive in a new city? The first thing I did when I ar­rived in Hong Kong was eat at other restau­rants, mainly at lo­cal ones. I have to em­brace the cul­ture to know ex­actly where I’m step­ping into. It’s im­por­tant to know the tastes and the flavours peo­ple en­joy.

Where do you like to go to find in­spi­ra­tion? I want to go to places where you can feel the am­bi­ence of the city. It’s very im­por­tant to catch the spirit of a place, to see the peo­ple go­ing about their ev­ery­day lives. It’s here where you see the heart of things. It’s the same thing when I started in Taipei, I would go and look at the lo­cal mar­kets and night mar­kets to un­der­stand what peo­ple like.

Your first im­pres­sion of Hong Kong? It’s a com­pli­cated ques­tion be­cause there’s so much hap­pen­ing here. I like to say it’s the New York of Asia. Peo­ple are pos­i­tive, ac­tive and ef­fi­cient. And for a chef it’s great be­cause you can get in­gre­di­ents from all over the world here.

What restau­rants sur­prised you the most in Hong Kong? I didn’t know what cha chaan tengs were be­fore, but the thing is I came to see how im­por­tant they are. Peo­ple are very busy here. So in the morn­ing it’s nice to see them all gath­er­ing in those kind of restau­rants and hav­ing sim­ple foods like pineap­ple bun sand­wiches.

What’s your favourite dish to or­der here? My favourite food is sweet-and-sour pork but, fun­nily, the pineap­ple is my least favourite part of that dish.

Tell us about the dish you cre­ated for the short film about the Hong Kong Tatler Best

Restau­rants guide. I made a dish of pump­kin puree mixed with milk tea, with lit­tle tortellini filled with the puree. I paired it with Hokkaido sea urchin and French scal­lops from Brit­tany, and a lit­tle buck­wheat. Hong Kong is so mul­ti­cul­tural and that’s why I had in­flu­ences from ev­ery­where for this dish: Ital­ian, French, Ja­panese, Can­tonese.

Visit hk.din­ing. asi­atatler.com/awards to see the full best restau­rants list and to watch the short film shown at the awards night last month. The 2017 Hong Kong Tatler Best Restau­rants guide is avail­able now at news­stands and book­shops

French caviar, Brit­tany crab and roasted lob­ster are some of the fine in­gre­di­ents on show at Gaddi’s

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