Extreme dining in Shanghai: French chef’s twist on haute cuisine

Staff members of Ultraviolet restaurant serve their guests inside the dining room in Shanghai. A van spirits Ultraviolet restaurant’s ten nightly diners to its secret Shanghai location where they enter a minimalist dining room to Wagner’s theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” French chef Paul Pairet immerses guests in a 360-degree parade of sights, sounds and smells tailored to evoke a matching sense of “place” for each dish in one of the most unique — and expensive — dining experiences on the planet. (AFP/Chandan Khanna)
Updated 06 November 2017
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Extreme dining in Shanghai: French chef’s twist on haute cuisine

SHANGHAI: A van spirits ten guests to a secret location in Shanghai, where they enter a non-descript industrial building as Strauss’s theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” fills the air.
Inside is avant-garde restaurant Ultraviolet, the city’s newest three-star Michelin eatery, where adventurous gourmands happily pay up to 6,000 yuan ($900) per head and the waitlist for a seat is three months.
The group dines on 22 courses — each one served in an atmosphere tailored to that dish and created by video and other images projected on the walls, pumped-in aromas, and its own soundtrack.
French chef Paul Pairet, 53, says the aim is to “connect the dots” between the mind and palate by triggering “the right atmosphere, linked to the right plate,” which he believes helps to enhance the flavours of each dish.
Guests take a culinary world tour, while mood music ranges from Claude Debussy to AC/DC: Pairet’s take on fish-and-chips comes in a London rainshower to the Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” while lobster is served as footage of ocean waves crashes on the walls and the scent of sea air is blown in.
“You are using all your different senses to feel this experience,” Cheryl Chen, a Shanghai consultant, dining at Ultraviolet, explains.
“It’s multi-dimensional versus others that probably have good food and a good environment, but this is one of a kind,” she adds.

Pairet, who already has two other highly regarded ‘traditional restaurants’ in Shanghai, first made his name as a chef at Cafe Mosaic in Paris in the 1990s before stints in Istanbul, Hong Kong, Sydney and Jakarta.
Ultraviolet was more than two decades in the making, he explains.
Its continued success, five years after it first opened, is testament to Shanghai’s burgeoning food scene — Michelin launched a dedicated guide for the city in 2016 — the only one in mainland China.
It also indicates the growing disposable income and culinary curiosity of Shanghai citizens.
Pairet says consumer interest actually increased after he put up Ultraviolet’s prices to cover costs.
He explains: “When we increased the price of Ultraviolet — we needed to sustain the whole project, there was no other way — after a certain level of price at 6000 RMB, we had an increase of Chinese customers.”


Low-carb diet linked to elevated mortality risk: study

Updated 17 August 2018
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Low-carb diet linked to elevated mortality risk: study

  • Rapid shift 10,000 years ago to grains, dairy and legumes has not allowed the human body enough time to adapt to these high-carb foods, say researchers
  • Replacing meat with plant-based fats (such as avocados and nuts) and proteins (such as soy products and lentils) reduces the risk of mortality

PARIS: Middle-aged people who get roughly half their daily calories from carbohydrates live several years longer on average than those with low-carb diets, researchers reported Friday.
The findings, published in The Lancet, challenge a trend in Europe and North America toward so-called Paleo diets that shun carbohydrates in favor of animal protein and fat.
Proponents of these “Stone Age” diets argue that the rapid shift 10,000 years ago — with the advent of agriculture — to grains, dairy and legumes has not allowed the human body enough time to adapt to these high-carb foods.
For the study, under 40 percent of energy intake from carbohydrates qualifies as a low-carb regimen, though many such diets reduce the share to 20 percent or less.
At the other extreme, a 70 percent or higher share of carbohydrates — such as pasta, rice, cakes, sugary drinks — can also reduce longevity, but by far less, the scientists found.
“Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy,” said lead author Sara Seidelmann, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets might be associated with shorter overall lifespan and should be discouraged.”
Replacing meat with plant-based fats (such as avocados and nuts) and proteins (such as soy products and lentils) reduces the risk of mortality, Seidelmann and her team found.
The optimal balance of food groups for longevity remains hotly debated.
Many studies have concluded that eating carbohydrates in moderation — 45 to 55 percent calories — is best, but others report improved short-term, cardio-metabolic health with high-protein, high-fat diets.
Measures of metabolic health include blood pressure, good and bad cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
Seidelmann and colleagues poured over the medical histories of nearly 15,500 men and women who were 45-64 when they enrolled — between 1987 and 1889 — in a health survey spread across four locations in the United States.
Participants filled out detailed questionnaires about their dietary habits — what foods, how much, how often, etc.
Over a 25-year follow up period, more than 6,000 of the men and women died.
People who got 50-55 percent of their calories from carbohydrates outlived those with very low-carb diets, on average, by four years, and those with high-carb diets by one year.
A review of medical records for an additional 432,000 people from earlier studies yield confirmed the results, which are also in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.
“There is nothing to be gained from long-term adherence to low-carbohydrate diets rich in fats and proteins from animal origins,” said Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher at Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, England, commenting on the research, in which he did not take part.
But carb quality, not just quantity, is crucial he added.
“Most should come from plant foods rich in dietary fiber and intact grains, rather than from sugary beverages or manufactured foods high in added sugar.”
Fibers also help maintain a healthy gut flora, now considered to be a major player in health and disease.