The clever genius behind Mr. & Mrs. Bund’s lively yet serious menu (two recipes at end of article)
Meet Paul Pairet – the Executive Chef of Mr. & Mrs. Bund Shanghai – a clever and experimental molecular gastronomist from Jade on 36 (in its heyday) who has brought his own irreverent take on French cuisine to his own place on Shanghai’s chic bund location. After an inspiring meal at M &M Bund, I had to meet the chef and see if I could get some insight on the vision that made this one of the most unique dining experiences I have enjoyed in a very long time.
First let me start with what made my dining experience at Mr & Mrs Bund so unique. I have never been to a French restaurant quite like this one. The meal was playful, the dishes idiosyncratic yet classic, presentations experimental yet unfussy, the service impeccable yet warm and casual and the overall quality of the foods…well, quite possibly flawless. I have been back since and realize this is no fluke, Chef Pairet is on to something here.
It’s probably no coincidence that his first cooking memories were from a Disney cookbook that he had received as a gift at age 9. Loosely translated as “The Good Recipe from the Grandmother,” it put a twist on the recipes and made them fun, using ingredients like Coca Cola. Perhaps if not for this book, Chef Pairet would have never started cooking. Then after a summer job where he ran the kitchen 1 night a week that he could actually see and enjoy diners eating and enjoying the things he prepared. It was then Chef Pairet realized that cooking had meaning for him beyond the job itself. Pariet says, “seeing my effect on people eating my food was profound,” even if it was inspired by something as simple as a croque monsieur.
Chef Pairet enrolled in a cooking school at age 18 and was fortunate enough to have one of the best professors in France at the time. Top notch instruction and training combined with Chef Pairet’s affinity for science and math led to the unique culinary style that one sees at M & M Bund today. Some might call it experimental molecular gastronomy while others might describe it as simple and ingredient focused – either way, Chef Pairet doesn’t see these two in opposition. He believes his culinary passion stems from relating most everything he sees or does to a new culinary idea – whether the idea that emerges is simple and seasonal or complex and experimental.
When I asked Chef Pairet how he manages to achieve a high level of detail and precision in execution with a staff of 100+, he says “I am not a better cook than some of the cooks in my kitchen. They have the same technical skills as the executive chef to execute a dish. My role is in the composition.” Chef Pairet describes this process of composition or creation as a “poetic process.” Having a history in writing poetry – I get it. It’s in the cadence of the words, the alliteration or rhyme…the details that transform a collection of words on a page to something meaningful that can touch both the writer and the reader deeply. So building on the poetry analogy, if Chef Pairet were a poet perhaps he would combine the flawless, classic style of Emily Dickenson with the raw emotion of Anne Sexton and top it off with a sprinkling of the brilliant irreverence of Dr. Seuss.
And Chef Pairet is not running out of ideas anytime soon. With a new project in the works, there is no doubt he will continue to make his mark on the Shanghai culinary scene.
VERY FRESH WATERMELON LICORICES STICK
500 G Vanilla Syrup*
750G Muscat Brown Brothers*
175G Lime Puree*
50G Aniseed Licorice Essence*
(* For the Marinade)
Whisk all Lime Licorice Marinade ingredients together and store in container with tight fitting lid.
Cut watermelon into rectangular shape 1.5X1.5X5.5cm
Submerge in Lime Licorice Marinade and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Skewer watermelon halfway.
Serve directly from freezer (optional garnish with basil leaves)
HAM RACLETTE BONBON
1 Unit White Ham
10G Lemon Zest
1G Crushed Black Pepper
Mix Lemon zest, salt and pepper for Lemon Salt.
Cut ham into cubes 2X2X1.5cm
Cut Gruyere Cheese 2X2X1cm Lay Cheese on Ham.
Brush cheese with olive oil.
Lightly season with Lemon Salt.
Stylishly wrap in roasting bags or chef’s paper.
Tightly clip with clothes pins.
Microwave 8seconds or until cheese is soft throughout.
Remove clothes pins and serve immediately.
Mr & Mrs Bund
Bund 18, 6th Floor
18 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Road
Telephone: +86 21 6323 9898