Hailing from the village of Bourbach-le-bas in Alsace, Chef Yannick Ehrsam joined Conrad Beijing in the beginning of 2013 after a stint at Sofitel Macau Ponte 16. Here, he tells us about his vision for the Conrad and his efforts to promote French cuisine in China.
What inspired you to first become a chef?
I’ve loved food since I was a child. I used to stop by the local restaurant in my village and help out during the weekends. This was my first taste of good food and the start of my passion for food.
What is your signature dish? Has it changed over time?
One of my signature dishes is my lobster ravioli with sauerkraut. I consolidated this dish after many years working in china. This dish is a mix between Chinese and French culture.
What is your vision for the Conrad Hotel’s dining outlets?
We are always looking to find the best possible product and keep our guests interested, whether they are staying with us or live locally in Beijing. One of the ways we do that is by implementing special promotions. For example, we have our afternoon tea, which is put together by our pastry chef Teresa, and our Sunday roast promotion at 29 Grill, with myself and chef Florin.
How have you seen the food scene (restaurant industry) in Beijing change since you were first working at Le Pre Lenotre?
I actually think it has improved a lot. There is a much greater range of products available, including much more organic produce. We are working with Shared Harvest, an organic farm in Mafang Village in east Beijing, to hold an organic farmer’s market on the last Saturday of every month.
Has there been any change in the level of appreciation of French cuisine in China since you first started working here?
I think local guests are starting to gain a better appreciation of French cuisine because we are trying to adapt the food to the tastes of Chinese customers. Many French chefs, including myself, are working hard to change the Chinese perception of French food, which is mainly that it is expensive and always comes in small portions! In truth, authentic French food is always generous.
You are the only member of Maitres Cuisiniers de France (a global organization for the preservation and promotion of French cuisine) in China. How can you use this title to promote French cuisine in China?
It’s true that I am the only member in China for now, but I hope to develop the association in China to better promote France. I have received a lot of support from the Chef de Cuisine at the French embassy, Thomas Ciret, for example through the recent Gout de France / Good France initiative organized by the French foreign ministry.
What is your aim in bringing so many guest chefs from France to visit the Conrad?
Firstly, it’s nice for me to spend some quality time with my fellow chefs. Secondly, it’s a great opportunity for me and my team to learn about new products and cooking methods outside of China. Finally, I want Chinese customers to experience the French culinary arts and by doing this encourage them to visit France not just for the history and the shopping, but also for the food!
More stories by this author here.
Photo courtesy of Conrad Beijing
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