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Interview: Chef Fabrice in Hong Kong

Caprice.

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29th January 2016

Frequent visitors to Hong Kong will know of the plethora of amazing restaurants available, offering international cuisine from Chinese and Japanese to Italian and everything in between. For those looking for faultless European food, look no further than Michelin starred French restaurant, Caprice, at the Four Seasons Hotel.

The story behind Caprice is unique. The restaurant, which started off with three Michelin Stars, found itself without a Head Chef for eight months, but was still able to maintain its Michelin Starred status due to the outstanding quality of its produce. When the restaurant welcomed new chef, Fabrice, in late 2012, it was still producing its classic French cuisine with only minimal updates.

We were told by the team: “Chef Fabrice joined us in late 2012, before that we were eight months without a chef. Previously we were a three Michelin star restaurant, but due to not having a chef we still maintained our high standards and Michelin gave us two stars.”

On the search for the elusive head chef, we were told: “our previous General Manager traveled all over in Europe in search of a French Chef – and he found Chef Fabrice”

Chef Fabrice created his first menu for Caprice in January 2013. It was a complete overhaul, an overnight change for the restaurant and for the kitchen staff. “We didn’t even close the restaurant for one day” they told us.

Caprice is now seen as a destination restaurant in Hong Kong. Fabrice ensures all of his produce is carefully selected and constantly updates the menu according to season. “The signature dishes remain but others can change up three to four times a week. The menu is seasonal, for example we have a ‘Game’ menu and in January a Black Truffle menu”.

When first creating his menu, Fabrice was influenced by his love of the sea and his childhood foods to create an eclectic menu for his diners, the diverse clientele of Hong Kong. Fundamentally, he only creates food that he would love to eat. “Caprice entirely reflects Fabrice’s personal style. Mentors that have most influenced him are Chef Alan Ducasse and Joel Robuchon as their food is also based on produce and taste”

Previously, Chef Fabrice worked in Cote d’Azur at a restaurant called La Chateau de la Chevrex d’or (also a two Michelin star restaurant) close to the ocean. Here he mastered cooking with seafood and created unique dishes such as the amazing King Crab Carpaccio. He also opened his own restaurant in Morocco Marrakesh, giving his dishes a Moroccan influence.

In terms of produce, Fabrice sources most of ingredients from France. “A lot of our ingredients are from France – so we’re lucky that we are in Hong Kong because we get ingredients flown to us twice or even three times a week. That’s the reason why we have a lot of established restaurants in Hong Kong. A lot of famous chefs love to come and work here because we don’t have too rigid restrictions on the foods we can bring in.”

The interior of the restaurant also complements the wonderful food. The team explain that the restaurant “is like a gallery– it is east meets west - very Chinsoiserie, with heavy woodcarvings, and Chandeliers from Czechoslovakia. The furnishings hint to French Baroque designs with touches of deep red.”

Lucky enough to be given a taster menu, The Sybarite team first sampled the Gillardeau Oysters in Sea Water Jelly with Tempura, Shellfish Dressing. Chef Fabrice poaches the oyster in its own water which gives it a firmer texture. It is served with a shellfish tartar sauce, razor clams, shallots and green apple, which brings the acidity to the dish to contrast with the saltiness of the oyster.

The team elaborate on the dish: “The Oysters are sourced from France in Marelles. Here you’ve got breadcrumbs for the texture and the lemon cream on the side for the acidity to match with the green apple”

Next, the team tried the Smoked Scottish Salmon, Fennel Cream, Sea Urchin Vinaigrette and Jelly – a richer appetizer that could do as well as a main. Fresh and delicious with Scottish smoked salmon, which Fabrice thinks is the best in the world. The salmon is served in layers, with a thin layer of salmon, sea urchin jelly and mascarpone cream to add texture.

For meat eaters, there is Sologne Venison Fillet with Pumpkin, Celeriac, Perigold Black Truffle and Sangria Sauce. “Sologne in France is the best area for the Venison” we’re told. “The Venison is prepared with Sangria because the Chef loves how the sweetness of the red wine sauce compliments the taste of the Venison, which is quite gamey.”

Next, was sea bass beautifully served with truffles and mushrooms. “Chef Fabrice uses all sorts of herbs because it reminds him of his childhood when he used to get all vegetables and herbs from the garden. On top you’ve got the white mushrooms and truffle which appear like scales of the fish.”

Fabrice’s Head Pastry Chef, Nicolas, has only been at Caprice for a few months but he grew up working in his parents pastry shop and at the age of two was already kneading bread. His desserts include the La Mûre, a composition of blackberry and rum with a chestnut chantilly and mandarin sorbet.

Cleverly, Fabrice has been able to reinvent his French cooking for a new international audience in Hong Kong, and from sourcing the produce to cooking and presentation, he has created a unique dining experience in a constantly evolving region.

 

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