Art Central opens in Hong Kong on Monday, kicking off two weeks of endless paintings, sculptures, events and exhibitions— but even the art cognoscenti need to eat. When beauty alone won’t satisfy, Michelin-starred chef Philippe Orrico, of ON Dining and UPPER Modern Bistro, has the answer: Le Marché. The European market-inspired pop-up will be Art Central’s flagship restaurant. Innovative and casual, the brasserie-esque space will be serving up everything from cheeses and gourmet sandwiches, to lavish multi-course meals.
Le Marché is innovative yet casual, what does that mean for guests? What can they expect?
Le Marché is modern in design and presentation — it fits right in with Art Central's exhibitors. However, our menu is approachable and casual despite using only the finest ingredients. Guests will notice immediately that this is not your usual fair offering. The restaurant immerses guests into a piece of Europe's gastromarket culture. You can eat, or drink, according to your own agenda. There are no restrictions here, no set menus to adhere to. If you'd like to stand at the bar with a glass of wine and some cheese, be our guest. If you'd like to sit for two hours and enjoy a three-course meal, you're welcome to.
You’ve enlisted long-time collaborators Jeremy Evrard and Giancarlo Mancino on this event, what are some of the highlights they’re preparing?
Jeremy is a master fromagier and his cheese boards speak for themselves. Jeremy is probably the only man in town to have 48-month Comté available to him — I expect guests will really enjoy this special cheese. In terms of cocktails, the clay-pot brewed ONegroni is always a hit. A class negroni with a hit of cold brew coffee — it's everything you want in a cocktail.
You received a Michelin star at both ON DINING and UPPER Modern Bistro in 2014 – how does that effect your work and mentality as you move forward?
I have never pursued a star, although it is always nice to be decorated. My philosophy is to simply keep doing what we are doing. To be honest, our customers are our customers because they like what we do, not because of the awards on the wall.
How do local ingredients work with French dishes? Do you like to use them to add a surprising element, or more subtly, to enhance the traditional flavours?
We have so much fantastic local produce on our doorstep, that it makes sense to take advantage of it. I like to utilise Asian ingredients in my French dishes for a more unusual flavour dynamic. My signature mushroom soup is made in a very French way, but with Asian mushrooms such as shiitake. I think it's pretty good.
Working offsite and away from your own kitchens can be a daunting task – why did you decide to set up shop at Art Central?
I like to push myself always. Art Central sees well over 30,000 visitors throughout the fair. To set up a restaurant catering to the needs of these guests plus the needs of the exhibitors is no mean feat but Art Central has truly changed the Hong Kong, if not global, art scene, and we are pleased to be a part of it.
What are some standout, can’t miss dishes?
The roast chicken is unmissable. People always tell me that you must be very confident to offer chicken as your signature dish as people tend to associate it with simplicity and blandness. This is not the case with our poulet - it has a rich, lip smacking quality and we serve it with perfect roast potatoes and crisp halved lettuce. It's the ultimate comforting dish. We're also aware that people come to the fair to look at the art and those without time to stop for a bite shouldn't be punished with bad food. I will be making gourmet sandwich boxes to be enjoyed on the go. They will be typically French; fresh homemade bread, quality charcuterie and, of course, the best cheese.
Could Le Marché be a permanent fixture on the Hong Kong dining scene soon?
Never say never.