an unusual restaurant

Behind the scenes of Ultraviolet Shanghai

UFO in multisensory culinary range, Ultraviolet upsets the traditional codes of the restaurant. If, in the dining room, the experience is difficult to transcribe as it is unique and incomparable, the food component that deserves some attention here. Reportage backstage Ultraviolet.


UV COULISSESUltraviolet, kitchen side

It's almost like the other restaurant. Almost only. No sign, no-trade area in this dark alley away from the tourist center of Shanghai. There is no evidence, at the bottom of a barely lit passageway and behind a high black door no charm, is one of the most exciting restaurants in the world.

Found so. And it is voluntary ... The address is never disclosed to customers. These are found elsewhere on the Bund, ultra busy thoroughfare where the starting point is located in the large multisensory diving. This is where a mini bus transports every day ten lucky guests who will take place half an hour later, in what is traditionally called the restaurant but here is closer to a closed rectangular jar without opening to the outside, secret, without any decoration or even roughness. A stateless capsule. There throne a long bare table and ten chairs. There's something to be disoriented. And this is precisely what Paul Pairet research, chief disturber: disrupt the customer's cues to better catch him and take him in his world. The dive lasts between four and five hours, 22 bearings taste, a panel of odor to excite the senses, a multitude of images - photos or videos - coming dressed the walls of the capsule. And sounds aplenty, to create a fully encompassing universe where time no longer has so much grip on the viewer-eater. The rest is experience to live, and not to tell.


Préparation of one of the first courses, the oyster. Right, servers expect the first plates.


Ultraviolet is also the omnipresent technological dimension, but is at the service of the experience of the meal.

Behind the scenes, things are "almost" normal. The kitchens are right behind one of the walls of the room. More than ever, to avoid disturbing experience, silence dominates and verbal exchanges are discreet. When the day of my arrival, after a meal, a glass escapes from the hands of a server, all eyes are steered on him as if he had committed a crime of lese-majeste. Formal prohibition of disturbing ballet. For here more than anywhere else, timing is calibrated, almost to the second. Except that the starting signal is not given through the kitchen but by man band that is behind its four screens. So he who launched the first sounds - a mixture of exchanges between the astronauts of Apollo 13 and Apollo 14 and the US base - and the first music, a horrible Korean pop that puts you in the bath of irony and contrepied than appreciated as the leader. "Starting with the music of very bad taste, at least, they are bound to enjoy the following songs" laughs Paul Pairet.

Paul Pairet oversees the preparation of a dish salle

Paul Pairet monitors on the screen, now in the kitchen, preparing a dish salleLa control room adjacent to the cuisineLa control room adjacent to the kitchen

Paul Pairet surveille la préparation d'un plat en salle
La salle de contrôle qui jouxte la cuisine
In the kitchen, we follow the pace in the proper sense, also behind the screens which track what happens indoors. Ultraviolet is also the omnipresent technological dimension, but is at the service of the experience of the meal. Side room, each server has "his" client. And dessert is served in total harmony. In all, about a service, it is not less than 25 persons providing room and kitchen, is an amazing ratio of 2.5 employees for an eater. This allows for more fluid movements and keep up throughout the evening. Beginning of the meal, it is intense sequences keep coming quickly. Greg, the second of chef Paul Pairet, of American origin, supervises all the cooking and lets nothing pass. An eye to the past, where it checks each plate, one eye on the screens to check the smooth running indoors. As for the one-man band, alone in his small office adjoining the kitchen, his eyes not leaving his console. The master of time, it's him. The client follows. "If you want to cook the best, ie when the product is cooked to perfection, should be imposed. Mastering the offer and the time allows me to direct the atmosphere of the restaurant "assurePaul Pairet, cap on his head and attentive to the slightest movement in the kitchen. This mastery is tangible: no jolt in the brigade, a strange sensation that very slowness contrasts with the rather supercharged atmosphere that can be known elsewhere. Even more surprising this time when the whole brigade stops in the middle of the meal, at the same time as the music goes off. On the screens, there is no longer a client in the deserted room. All parties are in another room, behind an invisible door for a break, have a drink or smoke a cigarette. Within minutes, eaters come back and then discovered a new table, drawn up differently. Another meal begins, other environments come to life. In the kitchen, the tempo remains piano piano. And the ballet continues servers with large plates that parade on the huge table. But the pace has slowed, and the time allowed to each dish is more consistent. Behind the screens, each scans the room to see if the evening goes smoothly. You do not hear them, but the eye can see the conversations that are going well between diners who did not know it until a few hours.
Envoi de l'un des derniers plats, le petit déjeuner revisité, façon Paul Pairet

Customers go there for their comments, scrutinize the screens in turn, seek to understand how this works fine mechanics. The visit backstage seduces and drags

After dessert, everyone is invited to get up and go ... Then, once donned coats and the first steps toward the exit, customers are reminded to take ... breakfast! This is one of the many winks taste the chef's summon all directions to better disrupt. Like these two plates presented a little earlier in the evening, visually identical except that one is a saltwater proposal, the other sweet. Disturbing and gratifying. Finally, the last act of this opera gourmet, the arrival of the guests in the kitchen for an exchange with the whole brigade and a last glass of champagne. Customers go there for their comments, scrutinize the screens in turn, seek to understand how this works fine mechanics. The visit backstage seduces and drags. Until he should stand in that lane still dark and mysterious. Luckily the van is there, ready to bring clients safely. In the kitchen, everything is already stored, folded, cleaned off the screens. Ultraviolet restaurant is almost like the others. Almost.