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Perched high above the city in a grand space overlooking sweeping views of Victoria Harbour sits Restaurant Petrus, the renowned fine dining experience with a refreshing take on contemporary French cuisine.

Michelin-starred Chef Uwe Opocensky, Executive Chef of Island Shangri-La Hong Kong

The restaurant is helmed with aplomb by Chef Uwe Opocensky, whose storied career includes stints at Anton Mosimann’s private London dining space — where he cooked for royals and other heads of state — as well as the luxe Anassa Hotel in Cyprus and three-Michelin-starred El Bulli.

Chef Uwe may well have gained his own Michelin star at Petrus for the last three years running, but when he speaks of his culinary achievements, he humbly passes the praise onto the producers he works with. ‘I see myself as a middleman between the producer and the consumer,’ he says. ‘If I have amazing produce, I hardly need to do anything to make it shine for the customer. I’d really like to highlight all the amazing farmers, fishermen and butchers who are out there, who are supplying us with all their hard work, all their labour. Me? I'm just manipulating the stuff in between!’

Spring Garden with Seasonal Vegetables, Tomato and Herb Micro Greens

While Chef Uwe is downplaying his incredible ability to plate up gastronomic masterpieces, it’s certainly true that the ingredients take centre stage. ‘For me, the eye always eats first, next is the smell and lastly the taste. But obviously, the most important part is the taste. So, I keep it very focused on the ingredient itself.’

Take the first dish of our lunch as the perfect case in point. It’s what Chef Uwe describes as a ‘walk through the spring garden’. Almost too pretty to eat, it consists of five petite dishes that beautifully reflect what’s in season right now, starting with the sweetest Japanese fruit tomato from Fukuoka, finished with a tomato consommé, whipped burrata cheese, and herbs and flowers. ‘Our producer clips half of the tomato flowers off to keep only half of them on the stem, so they have much more natural sweetness,’ Chef Uwe tells me as I take my first bite. ‘What normally happens with fruit and vegetables growing on vines is the more vines attached to the plant, the less sugar they get.’ But not these. As he says, it’s a ‘simple tomato’, but it’s also more, and it exemplifies how expertly selected ingredients are championed at Petrus.

As for how Chef Uwe discovers these hero ingredients, there’s no set process. ‘I look at what’s in season, what’s around us, and what suppliers can give us. For example, people might write to me and say, “I’m a small producer of beautiful green asparagus in Hokkaido. Would you be interested in trying my asparagus?” I’m getting a sample of that today or tomorrow, actually. If it’s amazing, I’ll put it on the menu and create a dish around it.’

It’s not just ingredients that inspire Chef Uwe’s creations, but often visuals too, which makes perfect sense given the incredible play of shade, texture and form that comes to life on every Petrus plate. ‘I do like to look at a lot of magazines — whether it be fashion or art — as well as colours,’ he says. ‘Sometimes I see a painting or a dress, and I like some part of it, or I see it represents something and then when I look at a certain ingredient, I can say “Oh, this makes sense”.  It doesn’t make sense for normal people, but it makes sense for me. For example, I saw a print dress I really liked, which reminded me of a steamed rice cake. From that, we made a dessert —it’s quite wild.’

Japanese Scallop with Tartare, Buttermilk and Caviar

As the lunch moves onto an unctuous scallop with freshly made buttermilk, we talk about legacy and what Chef Uwe hopes to achieve in the future. ‘You know, what I really enjoy now is nurturing the next generation of chefs, helping them to understand the essence of the job. Our job is very systematic — you have to do things over and over again, and get better every single time. It’s not all exciting, you know, fire, flames, what you see on TV. You do the same thing, like chop chives, and they have to be the same size. You do it every day, and that’s how you get better. People say “I want to cook the meats” but they can’t cut the chives. My approach is let’s get the basics right first, and that’s what I’m trying to give them.’

Over the final dish of wild garoupa, aged for 15 days and paired with a morel stuffed with beef cheek (a new and tantalising dish), I ask Chef Uwe about the pressures of gaining a Michelin star for Petrus every year. ‘I think if you’re young, it’s much more pressure,’ he says. ‘When you’re a little bit older like me, yes, it’s amazing, but I don’t get as wound up as I did when I was younger. Would you say no to it? I don’t think so, because it gives you a benchmark. But the most important thing is that your restaurant is full and your customers are happy, and if it comes with extra awards, fantastic!’

Ara Kue Wild Garoupa with Beef, Morel and Beetroot