An impressive culinary background brimming with senior roles in some of the world’s most celebrated French restaurants, extensive experience of creating Michelin-starred fine dining and a well-earned reputation for excellence brought Xavier Boyer to The Peninsula Hong Kong’s famed Gaddi’s restaurant, which has been renowned for its exquisite European cuisine for over 60 years. Exquisite Taste chatted to him about his creations and working in Hong Kong.
E: You have an extremely prestigious culinary background and earned Michelin stars very early in your career. What brought you to Gaddi’s?
Xavier Boyer: The Peninsula Hong Kong and Gaddi’s have an extraordinary history in terms of luxury. And I love Hong Kong for its mix of culture and heritage.
E: You believe in the less is more philosophy in your cooking; what does this mean for the diner?
X: We try not to over-complicate a dish with too many flavours. I would say less is more in cooking is to respect the product.
E: Your plating is exquisite. What inspires you to create these beautiful presentations and do you express your artistry in other areas too?
X: I like to play with colours and I like the beauty of symmetry inspired by gardens. I love painting; unfortunately I’m not very good at it so I try to express my inner artist in a way that is professional – which is cooking.
E: What do you feel you are personally bringing to Gaddi’s?
X: I would say it is the touch of modernity in the dishes. Of course, we are still doing some classic dishes that I love, but at the same time I wanted to bring new flavours to Gaddi’s.
E: Have you discovered new ingredients or cooking techniques that you particularly enjoy in Hong Kong?
X: Of course, Hong Kong is a big trading hub with a rich blend of people from different backgrounds and nationalities, which has inspired a great diversity of cuisine. Therefore, there are a lot of new ingredients to try; for example, I am currently experimenting to create a new dish with pandan leaves. And I am really amazed by the technicality of dim sum.
E: You’ve lived and worked in very diverse places. How, if at all, have these locations impacted on your cooking?
X: I think the places we travel will always influence us to a certain extent; that’s the reason why we all travel in a sense. It has impacted on my cooking by introducing me to some new ingredients, new techniques of preparing a known product, and a new way to use certain kinds of spices.
E: You were inspired to become a chef after watching a cooking show being filmed for TV. Have you done TV shows yourself and if not, would you want to?
X: Yes, I did, but it was a long time ago on a cable TV channel in France. It was short but really fun.
E: I hear you are a proponent of the slow food movement; what exactly does that mean to you?
X: I try to work with local products as much as I can most of the time. It’s true that we rely heavily on imported products in Hong Kong, but in London, Paris, New York and Taipei, I always worked with local farmers to engage the locals in the process.
E: Do you have a favourite dish of all time?
X: My favourite dish of all time is a blanquette de veau, which is a veal stew with a creamy sauce and glazed pearl onions.
E: What do you cook at home?
X: At home I just prepare some rather simple food, but I try to play with different spices and local ingredients from the market.
Free-range Soft-boiled Egg with Baby Salad Mix and Smoked Duck Breast
- 200g cooked white onion
- 80g milk
- 40g cream
- 24g chicken stock
- 72g eggs
- Cook the finely chopped white onion until very soft. Add cream and chicken stock, cook for 5 minutes.
- Blend, add eggs and salt then strain.
- Pour 20g onto each serving plate, cover with plastic wrap.
- Cook for 15 minutes at 85C.
- 300g lemon juice
- 600g extra virgin olive oil
- 150g calamansi vinegar
- 5g salt
- Mix the lemon juice, salt and calamansi vinegar, then emulsify with olive oil with a hand blender.
- Yellow frisée salad
- Affilla sprouts
- Parmesan shavings
- Violetta flowers
- Pansy flowers
- Smoked duck breast julienne
For the egg
- Cook 10 eggs in boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Cool in cold water then shell.
- Cut off ¼ of the egg, vertically.
- Get rid of the egg yolk.
- At the same time, heat the yolk of 10 other eggs very gently so that it doesn’t fully cook.
- Just before serving, pour this egg yolk into the egg white outers.
- Season the mizuna affilla and frisée salad with lemon dressing and arrange nicely all around the plate.
- Make a hole in the middle of the salad to place the egg.
- Decorate with parmesan shavings and flowers, and gold leaf if desired.
The Peninsula Hong Kong
Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
T: (+852) 26966760