Since its launch two years ago, the warm and quaint two-story French modern bistrot tucked behind East Nanjing Road Epices & Foie Gras has been impressing locals with their foie gras dishes and their unique twist of modern flavors on timeless dishes of the classics. We had the opportunity to sit down and speak with the chef and owner of Epices & Foie Gras, Claire Chen, and find out the story behind this restaurant.
Hi Claire, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Let’s start from the very beginning, why did you come to Shanghai?
I came to Shanghai in 2011 with my husband who had a professional opportunity here with his company. We also really loved Shanghai as a city after a few vacations, so we moved our whole family here. We loved how modern, exciting and full of energy the city is!
How did you get started in the restaurant trade?
We weren’t brought up in the hospitality or in the food and beverage industry, but when we were in France we loved to eat – we are total foodies! After living in Shanghai for two years we felt really homesick, so we had our own idea of French cuisine that is unique in Shanghai. It is more than just a business opportunity but for us to share our love for food and connect with people. People are often confused as we are Chinese looking, but yet we are fully immersed in the French culture. We are therefore at an advantage when it comes to building a bridge between the two cultures and create a live experience between the Chinese and French.
How do you stand out from the crowd?
The way I think about food is that, whether it’s French or Chinese, if it’s good, it will be appreciated by all regardless of geographical or cultural differences. Emerging from this point of philosophy, we consider everyone that dines at our restaurant as a valuable guest – just like our friends and family, not merely just a business transaction. Secondly, I think we stand out from the crowd because we genuinely care. We are both always here at the restaurant, interacting with guests, making suggestions, sharing our culture and making sure they are enjoying their experience.
Foie gras is your signature item. What make yours so special?
Foie gras has a long culinary history with spices, stemming from the ancient times of 4000 years ago, can you believe it? We provide a large diversity of dishes that comes with foie gras such as the pan seared foie gras with five spices and foie gras poached in red wine. We express creativity with our foie gras dishes by coming up with classic and innovative ways of cooking foie gras. We liaise with suppliers closely about our needs of foie gras and make sure it’s the best quality. We have so much experience with cooking foie gras and we can guarantee that almost every table will order at least one foie gras dish. A lot of people don’t know that we actually sell foie gras too at the restaurant!
Do you cook at home?
Not often because I don’t really have the time. I mostly dine here at the restaurant but depending on what ingredients I have, sometimes I do. My eldest son likes my beef tail confit, and sometimes I make terrine with foie gras too.
What would you like to eat for your last meal?
I think that it doesn’t really matter what I eat but whom I eat it with – with the ones we love.
What advice do you have for would-be restauranteurs in Shanghai?
Go and experience a lot of things. Work a lot and put your passion in it. Most importantly have trust in yourself.
What is the ideas and the feelings you would like to share with your restaurant decor?
Parisian style mixed with traditional and contemporary influences – so you see a lot of white tones and white steel. I love it because it’s not overly sophisticated but yet it has enough elegance for people to feel comfortable.
What makes you feel like you’ve achieved your goal at the end of the day with the restaurant?
The restaurant business in Shanghai is very competitive and time consuming, but being able to make people happy through meaningful experiences is what I am most proud of. To be able to be a part of each diner’s journey in connecting whether it be through a business or private event here is absolutely priceless.
Find Epices & Foie Gras at 309 Hankou Road (汉口路 309号).
Try Claire’s food this Sunday
at Shanghaiist Brunch Society!
at Shanghaiist Brunch Society!