In partnership with InvestHK
Hong Kong is full of hidden gems, and they all have a story to tell. In a competitive city full of popular chain restaurants and big restaurant groups, independent restaurants face many challenges to bring their culinary dreams to life.
Parisian bistro Bouillon is a newly opened independent restaurant born out of a passion and nostalgia for the City of Love. With the help of InvestHK, Bouillon was founded by Johan Ducroquet of Wanchai’s Le Bistro Winebeast and Grégory Alexandre, who’s been a part of the Hong Kong F&B scene since 2003.
We caught up with Chef Ducroquet to discuss this exciting new venture during what might just be the most difficult period in HK’s dining history.
Chef and owner Johan Ducroquet
Tell us about Bouillon. How did you develop the restaurant concept? How long did that process take?
The most important thing for us was to create the same atmosphere that you have in Paris. I’m Parisian and sometimes have the blues and I miss my city, so it was natural to create this authentic place in Bouilllon, where you eat well, find authentic artisanal products and work with the best wine and food producers. [I hope that] when people open the menu and sit at Bouillon [they] could have the same feeling that I have.
Why did you choose the name Bouillon?
It was a fun debate among other names, but we choose Bouillon because it represents warm[th], tradition, home and authentic recipes.
What are the challenges of opening a new restaurant in Hong Kong?
There are many: the cost of rent, uncertainty of the future... As you know, we have been through two difficult years and COVID-19 just struck the whole F&B industry, but in the midst of all these, I trust in the resilience of this city and think there are more opportunities than difficulties.
What lessons have you learned during your time as executive chef at Le Bistro Winebeast?
I’m very grateful for every experience and place where I have worked, from places in Paris and Spain to South America. From Le Bistro Winebeast, I learnt a lot about how to engage with my custumers; many of them are good friends more than clients! I built extraordinary relationships with people in the food and wine trade, so [overall it’s] an incredible experience.
You’ve been in HK for quite some time. Has the local F&B scene influenced your approach to cooking?
Definitely, the colours of the city, the energy, the smells from the market! We have the blessing in HK of great restaurants and fellow chefs. This has influenced my cuisine style for sure.
Bouillon’s menu focuses strongly on seasonal ingredients. How do you go about sourcing your ingredients?
I’m lucky to count on great suppliers from whom I can rely on getting the best in Hong Kong. This is essential for keeping consistency with our dining offers.
Your wine list is quite extensive. Can you tell us what makes wine such a vital part of a good meal?
I’m married to a sommelier; my wife, Cristina, got me into wine. We also lived in Alsace, which is a beautiful wine region in the east of France. From there, it isn’t difficult to be in love with wine. I believe a restaurant is a combination of both great food and wine; none of them could work separately. Wines tell you a story from people in the same way that cuisine does. From there, you create a great marriage and storytelling.
What is your favourite dish on the menu?
All dishes are my kids – I can’t have a preference for any of them. I love them all!
How do you hope diners will feel when eating at Bouillon?
It has been three weeks since the opening, and luckily, I have seen only smiley faces at the restaurant. I think we are going in the right direction to bring happiness to all our customers, but I stay humble as I know there is always room to improve. I’m working in the restaurant from 8am to midnight, so I really hope the clients appreciate the love that our crew is putting into every dish and serving them.
6 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, 2886 0056
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