What’s better than dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef? How about adding another Michelin-starred chef to the equation? We recently sat down for an evening of fine cuisine at ÉPURE, organised by Robert Parker Wine Advocate and the Michelin Guide.
The star chefs of the evening were ÉPURE’s head chef, Nicolas Boutin, and Chef Sun Kim from Singapore’s one-Michelin-starred Meta.
We had a chat with the chefs right before the start of dinner.
How did this four-hands collaboration come about? Did you know each other beforehand?
Chef Boutin: The Michelin Guide has been inviting chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants to host four-hand dinners. Sun Kim is well known for his balance of classic French technique with contemporary Asian tastes, so we thought it was a great match to ÉPURE’s French fine-dining repertoire.
Chef Kim: I didn’t know Chef Nicolas from before. But once I knew we were going to be collaborating, I searched and realised that we have quite a number of common friends in the field. He has a profile of amazing experiences, and I see this as a learning experience for me.
Chef Boutin: Chef Kim is Korean and well versed in French and Italian culinary techniques. It’s a great learning experience, and I hope to also get inspired by his Asian culinary influences.
Both of you are classically trained French chefs. How have your culinary paths diverted and evolved since then?
Chef Kim: I have been reinventing the classics by bringing in not only French but also Asian flavours. The crux is to always find a delicate balance in between.
Chef Boutin: I search for a unique path on how to use and revamp French ingredients by understanding and analysing the origins. My culinary style is to create pure, simple but, of course, delicious flavours. The ingredients are key, along with treating them with respect with the cooking method and seasoning while maintaining consistency.
Chef Sun uses more Asian-focused ingredients, while Chef Boutin uses primarily French ingredients. Has this made it easier or harder to share a kitchen and come up with a complementary menu?
Chef Kim: It wasn’t difficult to come up with a complementary menu. We drafted the menu first and Chef Nicolas’ team worked around it. Chef Nicolas’ dishes are very classic and elegant with a lot of rich and creamy flavours, while you can find a lot of intense flavours in my Asian-infused dishes, fuelled from the use of gochujang (Korean chilli paste), XO sauce and mushroom purée. For the kitchen, Chef Nicolas managed it very well; it’s very organised and elegant as in a French style.
Chef Boutin: It’s difficult to say whether it’s “easier” or “harder”, but we have certainly been anticipating this collaboration and helping each other. We tried to be flexible to understand what Chef Kim wants and adapt to his dishes while focusing on seasonal elements. We also tried to be organised when sharing the kitchen so that we both feel comfortable.
Have your cuisine and ethos changed since being awarded a Michelin star?
Chef Kim: I have become more confident in what I am doing. Before we got the Michelin star, people may have judged when I created something new and unique. Now, they understand it is Sun Kim’s cuisine. I now channel my confidence into better skills and to add even more playfulness in my food.
Chef Boutin: My attitude is the same as before we got the star. I believe it wasn’t just luck to get it – it was hard work for a long period, with the whole team involved. We are always evolving and improving and trying to “do something better than yesterday”. In particular, we listen to guests’ feedback on a daily basis to understand what we can refine. We certainly look forward to achieving more stars.
Where’s your favourite place to eat in Hong Kong?
Chef Kim: Definitely Tung Po Kitchen inside the cooked food centre at North Point. A friend of mine introduced me to this place. It’s very local and the atmosphere is great, with people cheering and dancing. It’s the place where I feel I am definitely in Hong Kong, and I visit every time I am here. Their XO sauce with clams is my favourite.
Chef Boutin: I love local food, especially sweet-and-sour pork (when it’s done very well), roast pigeon and fried rice. I feel like I haven’t tried enough restaurants to discover which one is my “favourite” yet.
Our exquisite dinner was a blend of classic French and Asian-influenced dishes:
Seaweed-sago cracker, garlic aioli, octopus and ikura by Chef Kim and Polmard sausage croquette with Ibérico ham by Chef Boutin
Irish oyster and lemon ginger dotted with gochujang-chive oil by Chef Kim
Bluefin tun in fennel froth, dusted in bergamot zest by Chef Boutin
Japanese madai (sea bream) with avocado cream, topped with yuzu-infused cherry tomato and basil oil by Chef Kim
Morel with white asparagus, white button mushroom and yellow wine by Chef Boutin
XO sauce prawn with garlic crumble, Jerusalem artichoke purée and radicchio by Chef Kim
Arctic char with Cevenne onion, petit pois and espresso by Chef Boutin
Beef short rib with shiitake purée, puffed buckwheat and charred Tuscan kale by Chef Kim
Squab ”Miéral” with plum and black garlic mousseline and roast bell pepper by Chef Boutin
Confit beetroot with pickled cherries and raspberry-shiso sorbet by Chef Kim
Guanaja 70% chocolate with nougat ice cream by Chef Boutin
For more articles like this, like Foodie on Facebook