Philippe Orrico Opens PICNIC on Forbes in Kennedy Town [Exclusive Interview]

Philippe Orrico Opens PICNIC on Forbes in Kennedy Town [Exclusive Interview]

An exclusive interview with Chef Philippe Orrico who is set to open a new restaurant, PICNIC on Forbes, in Kennedy Town by the end of October 

Keshia  Keshia  on 19 Oct '15

Philippe Orrico’s new restaurant, PICNIC, launches end of the month, on Forbes Street in Kennedy Town. The restaurant is designed by Tim Shepherd of Two Men in Hats. The cocktail bar, dining area, roaster and cheese display meld into a spacious open dining room. 

PICNIC on Forbes is inspired by the concept of picnic & French café and will serve picnic baskets, roasted French chicken, traditional fruit tarts and many other French delicacies. The ambience at PICNIC on Forbes is to be relaxed, friendly and informal, drawing on Hong Kong's love for a casual weekend. 

Sumptuous cheeses by Jeremy Evrard, one of Hong Kong's experts in the realms of cheese, are not skipped out on, and the carefully-selected global wine menu by Nicolas Denuex and perfectly-executed cocktails, including the signature Highball, by Giancarlo Mancino are also all part of the pull.

Most of the items on the menu will be available for take-away in unique picnic baskets. Signature dishes include The Picnic Basket, which starts at $298 per basket, Roasted Chicken at $488 and Macaroni Cupcake at $88.

We were fortunate to sit down with Chef Philippe in a moment of quiet to talk through the intricacies of the new restaurant:

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Firstly, what is it? We hate to be so predictable, but what is the concept?

PICNIC on Forbes, my third and newest restaurant, will open beginning of November. It is inspired by the concept of a picnic as well as the best parts of a French café. It will be serving food in a picnic basket, including signatures like roasted French chicken, traditional fruit tart and many other French delicacies.

The vibe at PICNIC on Forbes will be relaxed, friendly and informal. A range of roast meats of prime quality with drinks, essentially highballs created by Giancarlo Mancino, will be available for guests to dine on. The cocktail bar, dining area, roaster and cheese display are linked into one airy room design by renowned designer Tim Shepherd of Two Men in Hats.

The menu will evoke a casual Parisian café culture with crudités, salad, roasted meat, all served whole, half or quarter, sea salt crusted fish and fruit tarts. Most of the items on the menu will also be available for take away and served in a unique PICNIC basket.

See More: Brunch at Upper Modern Bistro 

Why Kennedy Town?

Kennedy Town is the new it-spot for Hong Kong diners to explore, especially now there is an MTR station making it very accessible. It has become the weekend destination for people looking to relax.

By launching PICNIC on Forbes, I’d like to encourage diners to join us for a relaxing dinner or weekend lunch with their family and friends.

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Forbes St in Kennedy Town via MTR 

What is exciting about this restaurant that was not including in the first two?

After working on a bistro concept for UPPER Modern Bistro, and the modern inn that is ON DINING Kitchen & Lounge, I wanted to try and work on the concept of a French café and grill culture. I’ve wanted to try this since moving to Hong Kong. PICNIC on Forbes will be a place for friends and family with a desire to meet for a good, simple and casual meal in a very cool and relaxing atmosphere.

The ingredients will be sourced and imported from all over France and Asia Pacific. Creating different concepts and different ways of cooking is what inspires me, and I hope this new restaurant entices guests to keep coming back for more in the restaurant, but also to order take away meals so they can enjoy natural food at home, with family.

To what do you owe the success of the first two restaurants?

I believe it is the effort I and my team make each day to create a restaurant with good food, good service and good ambiance. This effort creates an energy. We are happy when we work together and I think guests can feel this when they come in the restaurants; they must feel that we are completely dedicated to our restaurant. It is our life, our passion, to serve our customers.

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Atlantic cod at On Dining

Are Michelin stars something you aspire for when envisioning new restaurants?

When you put 15 years of resource, effort and all your money into a restaurant you do not think about Michelin stars. You hope people will like your food and your restaurant and come back. Although gaining a star is always great recognition, but it’s better to have a full restaurant with no star than an empty restaurant with a star.

In the future, I hope to continue creating more unique restaurants with different concepts. I don’t want to see people identify my dining group with one certain word, but would prefer a dining group which represents good value and quality restaurants, no matter if that means fine dining or bistro. The essentiality is to create it well and ensure it is abounding in hospitality.

See More: China Tang Hong Kong appoints Three Michelin Starred Chef Au Kwok Keung

What do you think this restaurant brings that Hong Kong’s dining scene is lacking?

Hong Kong's dining scene is very dynamic. I don’t know if it will add something specific that is lacking, but it will be an additional choice for guests. The more we can propose different concepts and offer different ideas, the better it is for restaurant scene. I think the PICNIC basket to share will be cool. Help yourself!

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PICNIC interior 

What is your favourite food and how are you working it into the cuisine of your restaurants?

This question has two answers, I think.

First, I like how the Japanese treat the fish, and how the French treat meat and desserts. 

Second, I like the food from all over the world–Indian, Italian, Chinese–and I think these two aspects are reflected in my restaurants.

What has been your favourite dish of 2015?

The Shi Lang bao of Corey Lee at Benu in San Fransisco

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Corey Lee via Eater

What do people absolutely need to order at this new restaurant?

The Picnic Basket.

Have you had to change the way you are cooking for Hong Kong diners over the years?

Yes I have, and in a big way. Guests are very demanding in Hong Kong, the guests are always pushing you to be better. Hong Kong has a varied identity. Guests know what they want and like. Something can be very popular in Europe and never work in Hong Kong. Though the opposite is true too.

See More: Saturday Brunch at ON Dining

What makes your cuisine special?

I try to go to the essence of the dish; to be direct in my approach and in the same way create a surprising flavour. It looks simple on the plate but when you taste it, something magical happens.

I also like to combine different cooking methods with different ingredients from different countries. I think what is special with my cuisine is the mix between these two aspects; the simplicity of the cooking method and complexity of the research.

It’s not French, Mediterranean, or is ‘Philippe Style’. 

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Dining Room at Upper Modern Bistro 

Which dish do you believe best sums up your cooking style?

There are two dishes: the pigeon and tuna roll served at Upper Modern and the whole duck at ON Dining.

PICNIC on Forbes opens on October 28

38 Forbes Street, Kennedy Town

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