World chefs: Paco Roncero's take on molecular gastronomy
HONG KONG, June 19, Reuters - Spanish chef Paco Roncero's new restaurant in Hong Kong now has to prove to the city's discerning diners that his "nouvelle cuisine" is by no means pretentious.
The two Michelin-starred chef, who gained recognition as Chef Ferran Adria's most famous disciple, opened VIEW 62 on June 15th, a revolving restaurant at the 62nd floor of Hopewell Centre in Hong Kong.
Roncero spoke to Reuters about his passion and taking risks in creating new dishes, and convincing his diners to discover "nouvelle cuisine" - his name for his own version of European cuisine.
Q: How has Ferran Adria influenced you and where have you gone beyond Adria?
A: "Ferran Adria provided me with an insight into molecular, innovative cuisine. He helped me view food as a new form and not just as an object. I have taken those skills and through progression and experimentation, I have reached a totally new space in cooking which I refer to as Nouvelle Cuisine."
Q: You're really interested in olive oil - why?
A: "There is nothing better in this world than pure, delicious Spanish olive oil. Through experimentation I have also realized the many ways in which I can modify olive oil to make it into a new and different product altogether. For example, through freezing and extracting the fat, I am able to produce a healthy butter form of olive oil. Not only is olive oil so much healthier than butter, the taste is exquisite. This means the options are endless - as is the flavor."
Q: How far can the limits of using olive oil be stretched?
A: "Of course to develop a product, it is reliant on experimentation, exploring and researching new ways in which olive oil can be produced, presented and modified. I enjoy experimenting and as it's my favorite product I strive to create new tastes, sensations and forms all the time. Combining these various forms with different foods also creates new dishes. For example, potatoes can be mashed, fried, boiled, cooked - if you were to mix all these different forms with olive oil, there would still be a unique taste to each. I hope I will always be able to discover new things."
Q: What are the influences on your cooking overall?
A: "I use influences from all over the world, it's part of the process. Of course a huge amount of my cooking holds Spanish traditions and influences but coming to Hong Kong, I will definitely be seeking and researching traditional produce and working with it to form new dishes. My menu changes all the time and this is due to new influences from travelling and experimentation. My process starts with a single product - a carrot, an apple, a piece of fish. From there, I try a million methods to change it into something totally new whilst keeping the essence of its flavor and its being."
Q: Is the whole idea of "nouvelle cuisine" a bit precious or pretentious, why or why not? What can this say to Asia and how has Asia influenced you - if at all?
A: "I believe that anything can be molecular, hence why I refuse to use this to describe my cooking. The act of making anything from a variety of products has an element of 'molecular-ness'. My goal is to go one step further and create something new and different - something that has never been done before. Yes, the process it precious and meticulous, but by no means pretentious. It's ambitious and risky but that is what I love.
"One must be fearless in creating these dishes, but the customer must also be fearless to try these dishes. Asia and many other countries help to influence my cooking and this will be apparent over time as my menu changes and transforms."
(Reporting by Cathy Yang; editing by Elaine Lies)