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Paul Pairet’s clockwork restaurant

The French chef, who’ll speak at Identità, opened Chop Chop Club in Shanghai. A restaurant measuring cooking times to the second

A photo from Chop Chop Club, the third restaurant

A photo from Chop Chop Club, the third restaurant opened a few days ago by French Paul Pairet, soon to speak at Identità Milano. The restaurant has a simple yet often unmet essential goal: serve large dishes cooked in the best possible way

According to an urban legend, he got the idea from railway station departure boards. His team says it’s not true and he simply got the idea following the desire to cook “old style”. Given I’ve known him for years now, I simply think it all began from the spirals of smoke of one of his frequent cigarettes. In any case, Paul Pairet has had one of his great ideas.

After the Mr & Mrs Bund “modern eatery” and the avantgarde and hyper-sensorial cuisine of Ultraviolet, the French chef has now decided to turn “back to the cave”. «The watchword», he says «is existentialism, in fact, we’re returning to the primordial primitive!». Hence the opening on Saint Valentine’s (a pagan and primitive holiday par excellence) of Chop Chop Club (or CCC, as they enjoy calling it here) at Unico, the famous building 3 on the Bund in Shanghai, an outpost focused on the carving station with Bertha ovens that can reach even 500°C and bake main dishes every 15 minutes after they reach full cooking power.

A preview of the lesson Paul Pairet will hold in Milan. For details, you’ll have to wait for the lesson on Sunday the 5th March at 11.30

A preview of the lesson Paul Pairet will hold in Milan. For details, you’ll have to wait for the lesson on Sunday the 5th March at 11.30

«The idea that led me to the CCC concept», he says, «was that of finding a way to serve 8 or 9 large main courses at the top of their preparation to whoever may want them. It is not that simple for a restaurant to serve an equally perfect dish when people order at 6.30 pm or at 10 pm. We know this well in Shanghai: local guests enjoy eating early, westerners prefer eating after 8.30 pm». You can use vacuum cooking, deconstruction, technology... but there’s nothing better than a nice tray followed by the damp smoke of a wood oven.

Hence the idea of a “railway” departure board: next to the carving station there’s a led panel saying what’s coming out of the oven, at what time, and how many portions are still available (“buy”/”sold out”): there’s the “Chargrilled Cote de Boeuf” at 7.30, the roasted sea bass at 7.45, the grilled turbot at 8, the roast chicken and grilled chicken, both at 8.15, and then again there’s the Côte de boeuf at 8.30 for those who missed the first serving one hour earlier.

In other words, we’re in the middle of the sharing economy. Huge and scenic turbot, or fillet and so on come out of the carving station: people open up their mouths, take selfies, increase their salivation, and then the course is divided and served to those who ordered it. Yet next to the high speed trains there are slower trains too: on top of the clockwork main courses you can still order side dishes à la carte. All in the usual Paireticious style. Among these, “Bertha’s Shiitake” stand out. An entire bunch of Shiitake mushrooms with a whole trunk grilled and smoked, and served with gloves and scissors so that guests can pick the mushrooms from the table and take their selfies.

52 year-old Paul Pairet from Perpignan in France has been in Shanghai since 2005

52 year-old Paul Pairet from Perpignan in France has been in Shanghai since 2005

Paul Pairet will illustrate this and the much awaited presentation, in January, of the “C” menu at Ultraviolet at Identità Milano, on Sunday the 5 March at 11.30. In particular, the lectio from the maître will be focused on the piece de resistance at Ultraviolet, created among the ecstatic admiration for a painting by Arcimboldi and the irreverent “tu vvo fa l’Americano”: Tomato mozza and again, a culinary trompe l’oeil based on false identities in which Paul serves two perfectly identical dishes seemingly made with mozzarella and tomato.

In fact, the two dishes will reveal to be one the opposite of the other: one will be a classic dish, the other a fake-mimetic game built with unexpected ingredients. It’s up to you to discover with what... or else risk another mauvais truc from the French hatter.

China Grill

Tasty reports from China and the Far East from our collaborator Claudio Grillenzoni


Claudio Grillenzoni

A journalist with the bad habit of xenophilia (natural, he's a Germanist) and food (he's from Modena ), he now lives a happy life in China, in Shanghai, building connections between East and West 

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