Whether using tinned sardines to produce sophisticated, avant-garde fine dining, or using sophisticated, avant-garde techniques to produce the simplest of French dishes, Paul Pairet is a culinary egalitarian.
He approaches cooking, ingredients, techniques, textures and flavors with an equal lack of prejudice and unbiased opinion without regard for national boundaries or ‘class’ devoid of context, and reputation.
Pairet calls this the “newborn eye”: tasting something as if it was being tasted for the first time, and perceiving without discrimination.
“A tinned sardine” is not a lesser sardine than a fresh one, but simply a different product. He insists, that foie gras is not intrinsically more suited to fine dining than a piece of bread, or a truffle more interesting than the Coca Cola.
There is no “better” or “worse” when it comes to flavor, there is simply a universe of flavors, a palette of differences to paint with liberal doses of imagination.
“Above all flavors should taste divine, assertive, sending taste buds into raptures, and the mind traveling on a bite through countries or found memories”.
Aside flavors, Pairet plays with texture and smell, he tricks the eye, cracks jokes in dishes, challenges pre-conceived ideas, and expectations, makes you think for a second: Wonder how? Wonder why?
He designs and wraps dishes in eye-catching, conversation-stopping, plain beautiful presentations.
A single noodle, presented in a concentric circle, made of fresh cuttlefish. A beef short rib, glistening on an over-sized bone. A lemon tart appears as a whole edible lemon…
The former scientist student has a simple philosophy:
“A dish is ready when there is nothing left to add or take away. A dish could be: interesting, new, daring — perhaps shocking — beautiful, maybe comforting, even funny, but always good.”
It is Avant-Garde, yes, but figurative Avant-Garde, not abstract: with flesh and bone!