A chat with the international winner of our Coastal Challenge, Hong Kong based French Chef Johan Ducroquet.
What is special about Bouillion and what sort of cuisine does it specialise in?
The idea with Bouillon was to recreate some of the best classical dishes in French Cuisine with the best “terroirs” (provenance) and seasonal products. The dishes on the menu are designed to transport our customers to France without taking a plane, particularly now when travel is so restricted. I take special care to choose the ingredients and suppliers, and I’m proud to say I’m working with the best. This is what makes Bouillon so special to me. And the atmosphere inside the restaurant is very Parisian, so I feel really at home.
Do you have any lamb dishes on the menu?
Absolutely, lamb is one of the specialties on the menu. Right now we have the Lamb Parmentier and also a slow-cooked lamb shank. Diners love these dishes – and the lamb we use is Coastal Lamb.
How is Hong Kong? It’s been a difficult couple of years for hospitality with the protests and Covid-19. Does it feel like things are improving, and are people able to eat out more now?
The situation has been challenging here, but we were lucky as HK was never in lockdown. However we did have social distancing restrictions, which limited the number of clients per table. Plus the restrictions on opening hours have heavily impacted the Food & Beverage and wine industries. Many outlets have been closed, leaving many people without jobs.
The political situation is always complicated, but now the situation looks more stable since the arrival of the National Security Law. I think it will be a period for the city to heal and more investors to come back. Still, HK is a resilient city and will bounce back.
These kinds of challenges also gave many entrepreneurs opportunities to find new business ideas. In my case, I realised it was the right time to open my own place.
Your wife Christina is a world-renowned Sommelier – is she working with you at Bouillon?
Cristina has been amazing helping me choosing the wine selection for Bouillon since she has a broad wine knowledge and knows the wine trade in HK. The wine selection is fantastic and has some of the best family producers in the world, including wines from New Zealand – from Martinborough, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. Cristina has started a new project herself, but she always keep an eye on the restaurant’s selection.
What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any spare time?
What is that word? (ha ha ha!) Well, at this time the restaurant is like a baby to feed and take care of, so I do not have that much free time, but it will be adjusted over the time. Once the team settles down and the travels restrictions lift and we are able to travel, I would love to take some time off to go to Thailand, Malaysia and perhaps come back to NZ!