10 Minutes With…Gastro Genius Paul Pairet of Shanghai’s Ultraviolet

“Emotion And Memory Are The Ultimate Luxury”

Chef Paul Pairet (Image: Scott Wright of Limelight Studio)

Since bursting onto the culinary scene at Paris’ Cafe Mosaic, the globally minded French-born and trained chef Paul Pairet has amassed international accolades for his “French-but-not-French style.” Venturing to Shanghai in 2005, Pairet ran Jade on 36 at the Shangri-La Hotel Pudong through 2008, then the following year added Mr & Mrs Bund, a French-inspired eatery nestled in the historic Bund, to the city’s fine dining scene. Shifting gears to dabble in the avant-garde, in 2012 Pairet opened Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, a concept the chef had incubated for 15 years, brought to life in a purposefully mysterious yet groundbreaking dining experience.

Unlike any other restaurant in Shanghai, Ultraviolet sets a single table of 10 and serves a 20-course set menu that tantalizes the five senses in a fully immersive gastro-trip. Since opening its doors last May, positive reviews have continued to roll in, with Alain Ducasse saying, “C’est magnifique et delicieux,” That’s Shanghai calling the restaurant “An odyssey into the psyche of Paul Pairet,” and the New York Times deeming it a “multisensory eating experience that goes beyond the mere taste of the food.”

Recently, Jing Daily caught up with Paul Pairet to discuss his newest culinary exploration, dining in Shanghai, and the meaning of ultimate luxury.

Ultraviolet is unlike any other restaurant in mainland China (Image: Scott Wright of Limelight Studio)

Jing Daily (JD): Ultraviolet offers a very unique dining experience, to say the least. How is it different than your previous restaurants?

Paul Pairet (PP): The difference is [clear]: At Ultraviolet, I could master the time and atmospheres based on the designed courses from a fixed set menu, in order to present what I think is the best way to experience each dish.

JD: What do you think Chinese diners are looking for today, and how does Ultraviolet meet this demand?

PP: I’ve had the idea of creating this dining experience since 1996. It’s not created solely for Chinese diners. Creating a new experience isn’t necessarily for meeting demand. In the case of Ultraviolet, I do not do a marketing project [to meet] a demand, but create a non-existing alternative. As a consequence, Ultraviolet seems to be able to [have] a strong impact on the strong curiosity of Chinese customers.

JD: What made you decide to open in Shanghai? How does the city complement the restaurant?

PP: I’ve been working here in Shanghai since 2005 (Jade on 36 from 2005-2008), setting up and running Mr & Mrs Bund (2009 ’til now). With my team & support developed here, naturally Ultraviolet is here. Also thanks to the city’s developing construction gastronomically.  Everything is possible [here] but needs to be well executed, as everything can fail too.

JD: What does your clientele look like?

PP: You, me, everybody from backpackers to CEOs and full-traveled gastronomes.

JD: How do you see a fine dining dovetailing with luxury experiences?

PP: At Ultraviolet and for those who experience it, hopefully emotion and memory are the ultimate luxury.

Image: Scott Wright of Limelight Studio

Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet
Reservations: uvbypp.cc/bookings
Set menus from 2,000 yuan (US$322) per person
Tel: (86) 21-6142-5198


Art & Design, Market Analysis