Europe’s greatest chefs are coming to China. Last week, El Bulli’s chef Albert Adria was in Beijing where he described Chinese dishes as “elegant, exquisite and sexy”. In further praise he said: “I consider Chinese food the most powerful among world cuisines.”
Adria‘s brother, Ferran, runs arguably the world’s top restaurant. Almost two million gastronomes tried to make the pilgrimage to Spain to eat at El Bulli last year, but only 8,000 got to sit down and sample the cuisine.
Ferran first visited China seven years ago and made the bold prediction that “China would be the future of the world”. His younger brother has since become “impressed by the energy of the Chinese frying pan” too.
At El Bulli’s food laboratory, Albert and his team try to create an entirely new 30 course menu each year – experimenting with ingredients, and preparing them in an innovative way.
Famed dishes on bygone menus include gnocchi of rose-scented air in tarragon soup and pairs of thyme-poached rabbits’ brains with deep-fried rabbits’ ears. According to El Bulli’s website: “Cooking is a language through which all the following properties may be expressed: harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humour, provocation and culture.”
During his visit Adria met the manager of the Da Dong Peking Roast Duck restaurant, Dong Zhenxiang. He told the Spaniard that Chinese cuisine contains 5,000 classic dishes and that for any chef to learn the entire repertoire would take a lifetime.
Meanwhile, Joel Robuchon is not quite in China, but he’s evidently keen to know exactly when he is on Chinese soil. The globally renowned French chef was recently interviewed by the South China Morning Post during a visit to his Hong Kong restaurant. Robuchon’s main concern was whether “Macau was China”.
A strange question but he had a vested interest in finding out. His restaurant in Macau, Robuchon a Galera, is due to be relocated from its current home in the Hotel Lisboa to the top of the newer Grand Lisboa.
What’s the problem? A fortune teller read Robuchon’s cards 20 years ago and told him he must be careful: “You will have an accident in a tower in China. It will be a catastrophe.”
Hence his interest in whether the Grand Lisboa counts as China.
The new Lisboa is definitely a tower. Macau, on the other hand, is a special administrative region – even Chinese citizens need a visa to visit.
Weighing it all up, WiC reckons the three-star Michelin chef should be okay. Nevertheless the prognostication may explain why there’s still no Robuchon restaurant in Shanghai or Beijing. It can’t be for lack of culinary demand.
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