On top of the culinary world

By Li Xinzhu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-23 10:01
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On top of the culinary world
Frog legs are a culinary connection between China and France.
Yong Kai / China Daily

The French restaurant at the Rhone-Alps Pavilion is in a class of its own, Li Xinzhu reports.

Atop the Rhone-Alps Pavilion and overlooking the Expo Garden there is a small slice of France for diners looking for an escape from the typical dining scene in Shanghai.

The pavilion's Le Restaurant Ecole Institut Paul Bocuse is always bustling during dinner, where guests will feel as if they're dining in Paris.

Operating as a restaurant and culinary school, the restaurant is part of the Paul Bocuse Institute, which was founded by renowned chef Bocuse and provides professional training in catering and hotel management all over the world.

The restaurant is decorated in comfortable dark gray chairs, wooden tables, crystal glassware and pure white napkins, giving an air of class and sophistication not found anywhere else in the Expo Garden.

French cuisine always exudes quality, elegance and class, and this restaurant serves delicate dishes in a romantic atmosphere. With only 100 seats, diners will appreciate an intimate environment that focuses on what matters most - food and service.

Federico Duarte, the executive chef who studied at the Paul Bocuse Institute, has a team of chefs of all skill levels from China and abroad preparing dishes that will appeal to both Chinese and French tastes.

"They are not only working in the restaurant, but learning as well," said Duarte, a man with a passion for learning himself. When he noticed Chinese customers did not enjoy sweet foods as much as the French, he modified the desserts.

"I changed the dessert menu to use more fresh fruits to replace other ingredients," he said. "It is always a very pleasant procedure to learn something new from your customers."

The chef highlighted a dish of fine herbs, veloute sauce, crayfish and frog legs from the set menu as one he created.

"As I know, only the Chinese and French can eat frog legs and no one else," he said. "It is a very beautiful connection, and I have presented it in my dish."

Another dish on the menu is red mullet fillet in breadcrumbs with soissons puree and smoked ham. The chef said that it is the best to eat fresh seafood in the summer because "things are light and pleasant".

On top of the culinary world

For dessert, he has created a cool treat using the local fresh fruit lychee and raspberries, a typical European fruit, combined with a soft ice cream and whipping cream.

"Here is not only a restaurant, but a place for cultural exchange," said Duarte, "It is the real value to us."

The open-style kitchen will give customers the opportunity to see chefs preparing meals.

The restaurant's terrace is only open for dinner.

Le Restaurant Ecole Institut Paul Bocuse

Zone E, 4F, Rhone-Alpes Pavilion

Price: Set lunch costs 180-230 yuan per person

Opening hours: 11 am-2 pm, 6 pm-9:30 pm