DiningFrank Hu

Frank Hu is the groundbreaking Executive Chef of Shang-Hai and an expert on all things Shanghainese

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If you want to understand a city properly, talk to the chefs. They live and breathe the local markets, know all about the regional produce and specialities and have immersed themselves in native dishes and cooking techniques. We sat down with the Executive Chef of Shang-High, Frank Hu, who has presided over a fourth consecutive year of holding a Michelin star and has reinvented traditional Shanghainese cooking for the 21st century. Here is Frank Hu on Shanghai.

Shang-Hai restaurant Jumeirah

 

Why Shanghai?

I chose Shanghai as a city to work in because it is a truly international city, where the possibilities are endless. There is a real chance to diversify your career here and the create something truly exciting.

What makes it so exciting?

There are so many different influences in play in Shanghai: the variety of cuisines, restaurants and cultures is extraordinary. There are so many opportunities to create something very different, and so many places and people to draw inspiration from.

What gives you inspiration?

Shanghai’s spirit of modernity, openness and inclusion, mixed with the city’s millennia of culture and heritage has really inspired me. So, without altering the traditional flavours of local ingredients I have been able to combine Western ingredients, cooking techniques and innovation to really create a 21st century twist on Shanghai cuisine.

What is typical Shanghai cuisine?

What I love about local Shanghainese cooking is the thick, oily broths that have such a full flavour. The richness of the food is key from the slow-cooked, braised meats to the deep, strong sauces.

Where do you go to eat Shanghainese food?

My inspiration has always come from very local cuisine and I try to head out to the more neighbourhood restaurants. There are so many good ones about I am spoiled for choice. Then again, I love to try some of my other Michelin-starred competitors and see how they are transforming traditional Chinese cooking.

How does Shang-High relate to Shanghai culturally and culinarily?

Shang-High follows a Haipai ethos, this is a Western style of cooking that is unique to Shanghai and integrates cooking techniques and flavours from several of China’s regions. Shanghai is the city that most combines the East/West attitude and I love to reflect that on the menu.

Shanghai markets

 

What would you recommend a first-time visitor to Shanghai to do and see?

There are three things that everyone should try and do. The first is visit Lujiazui, Shanghai’s financial district and the economic powerhouse of China. The glass and steel architecture is amazing and you can feel the dynamic pace of life all around you. The second, once you’re in Lujiazui, is to go to the top of the Shanghai Tower, China’s tallest building, to see the city unfurl around you with the serpentine Pearl River running through the centre. The views are just unforgettable. The final thing to do is visit Nanjing Street on the Bund waterfront. This is probably the city’s most vibrant street, and it is where the old world and the new world collide with amazing restaurants and nightlife.

Shanghai Tower

 

Where do you go on your days off?

I love my days off, it gives me a real opportunity to get out of the kitchen and explore some of the local markets, well, when I say local; both in Shanghai and just outside the city. I look for new raw ingredients that I can use in my menus, something possibly a little unusual that I haven’t come across before.

And finally, what’s next?

Well, innovation is never ending. I am going to continue to develop the menu at Shang-High and explore new techniques, new tastes, and new experiences. The raw ingredients are always the most important element of a dish, but you can have fun extracting the full flavour of them.