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Canadian chef makes an artful start

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-09-30 06:54:19

Canadian chef makes an artful start

Slow-cooked Chengdu salmon. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chef Bradley Hull likes to talk about food preparation as art, likening the plate to a chef as a canvas to an artist.

There wasn't much room to express his inner Picasso, however, when he first came to Portman's in Shanghai, an all-day hotel buffet restaurant which was virtually across the street from his previous gig.

But the Canadian chef's arrival coincided with plans for a creative makeover to an a la carte restaurant. So Hull bided his time, tweaking the status quo, developing a new menu and chasing new sources, including a natural freshwater salmon farm in Sichuan province as well as Australian beef from select Tasmanian breeders.

By the time the "new" Portman's was unveiled, Hull was ready with his palette of flavors and textures.

In an area rebuilt after Sichuan earthquake in 2008, sustainable mountain spring salmon are raised for three years until matured, and never leaved their fresh water environment to swim in the ocean.

"That gives them a unique crisp and fresh flavor," Hull says. "Each salmon is 100 percent clean, tested for all pollutants, toxins and growth hormones, giving it a gorgeous deep red color that is similar to wild salmon, while remaining leaner than farmed salmon."

Similarly meticulous sourcing has brought Robbins Island Wagyu beef to Portman's, which the Hammond families have been producing since the early 1990s in a pristine environment. During the iconic seasonal musters, bands of horsemen swim the grain-fed cattle through saltwater channels at low tide to move them peacefully between grazing areas.

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