Surely, It's Not the Best Restaurant In the World

Surely, It's Not the Best Restaurant In the World

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I still remember what I said to my friends at the end of my first a la carte meal at Phenix:

“If the Michelin Guide does not include this one, I’d be really disappointed. "

Then, I've published my first review 《 躺着赚钱的璞丽,只吃Brunch你就亏了 》and have been a loyal fan of this restaurant promoting it to all my friends and family. 

On the day the Guide was released, I was the one who passed the news to Chef Michael Wilson. A few months later, the Guide asked me if I was interested in doing an interview with Michael. 

去年5月在璞丽,第一次吃完零点菜单,对身边的朋友说了这样一句话:

“如果今年米其林没有这家餐厅,我会很失望的。”

然后,就有了那一篇《 躺着赚钱的璞丽,只吃Brunch你就亏了 》和日后的安利。

指南公布那天,告诉主厨Michael Wilson“你摘星了”的人是我。大半年后,米其林问我,愿不愿意和Michael做个访谈。

Possibly my fav spot for writing up a story like this

Possibly my fav spot for writing up a story like this

That happened shortly after I dined at PHÉNIX for the spring menu. Upon hearing my positive feedback, Michael, who's been suffering from a severe "star-loss mania" at the moment, said to me, 

" Well it's much better than what it was one year ago, isn't it? "

The arrival of the Guide did not instantly raise Shanghai to the level of New York, Tokyo or Paris. In becoming a world-class food capital, Shanghai still has a long way to go. But you have to admit, the food scene in Shanghai is getting better. 

PHÉNIX is not the best restaurant in the world, probably not even the best one in Shanghai, but it is one of those restaurants that grows with the city Shanghai, with patrons like you and me. 

I reckon there's nothing more important than this. 

当时刚去璞丽吃完 春季新菜 ,正饱受“失星疯”困扰的Michael,听到我的肯定意见,如释重负地说了一句话:

“现在我的菜,比起一年前好太多了吧?”

米其林来到上海,并不意味着上海已足以与纽约、东京或巴黎匹敌;在成为世界美食之都的路上,上海还有很长很长的路要走。但你必须承认,上海真的越来越好吃了。

PHÉNIX不是这个世界上最好吃的餐厅但它却在你我身边,与上海这座城市一起,慢慢成长。

还能有什么事情,比这更重要了呢?

 "Your first Michelin star, you did't know about it? "

It was Septmeber 2016. Setting up for lunch service in the kitchen, Michael Wilson received a wechat message read the following: 

"Congratulations!"

"On what?"

"Your first Michelin stat, you did't know about it?"

He paused a little, staring at these few words, making sure he didn't get it wrong, then pick up the phone and sent a voice message. 

"No, I've only found out when you told me..."

He sounded trembling. Must be the excitment. 

2016年9月的一天,在厨房里例行准备餐厅午市餐点的Michael Wilson,忽然收到一条微信:

“恭喜你!”

“什么?”

你的第一颗米其林星星,你不知道吗?”

他瞪着这几个单词,愣了几秒钟,确认自己没有看错。

“不,你告诉我,我才知道……” 

在他发回给我的那条语音里,惊喜之中夹杂着一丝颤抖。

we ❤️  herbs

we ❤️  herbs

This is when luck came out to play. Well into his fifth year in China as the Executive Chef at the PuLi Hotel, on an ordinary Wednesday morning, during the few minutes preparing herbs for lunch service, 31 year old Australian Chef Michael Wilson was crowned a michelin star, realizing a dream that's out of most people's league. 

运气总是这样突如其来。来到中国、担任璞丽酒店行政总厨的第五个年头,一个平凡无奇的周三中午,摆弄着几棵装饰香草的几分钟里,31岁的澳洲人Michael Wilson,凭借开张不过半年的PHÉNIX Eatery & Bar,忽然完成了从一名普通厨师到 Michelin Starred Chef 的转变:一个许多人穷尽一生都难以企及的梦想。

 "When I was 20, I dreamt about working in Europe. "

When it comes to Michelin starred chef, we can't avoid looking at the "resume". 

It seems like every Michelin starred chef boasts some sort of a great past, many stories to share, and of course, a resume filled with all kinds of big names. 

当我们谈论米其林厨师的时候,总是绕不开“履历”二字。

似乎每一位米其林厨师,都有一段令人艳羡的过去,一些非常辉煌的往事,一张布满了各种高级餐厅与名厨的履历……

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big names with a big vibe

big names with a big vibe

Michael doesn't come in fancy. Grown up in a family from Melbourne surburb, Michael was the middle child of "the Wilson five". All boys. 

At the age of 15, Michael started working at a local restaurant in South East Melbourne. Like every young man fresh into the business with zero kitchen experience, Michael started out washing sinkful of dishes.

Michael并没有那种金光闪闪的简历,这个来自“墨尔本乡下”的耿直boy,也不是含着金钥匙出生的:Michael出生在墨尔本靠海郊区的一个普通家庭,母亲是学校老师,父亲则是位老实本分的农民,在家里的五个男孩里,他排行老三。

“生在一个只有男孩子的家里,其实挺很可怕的,我还记得小时候,有一次我哥哥骗我去高速公路上玩……”

15岁那年,Michael开始在墨尔本东南的一家本地小餐馆打工。和每一个初入厨房、且没有任何专业背景的愣头青学徒一样,Michael的厨房生涯始于一池又一池刷不完的盘子。

Kitchen is a battlefield, you gotta find to survive

Kitchen is a battlefield, you gotta find to survive

Never spent a day in culinary school, Michael taught himself through a decade of hard working under the guidance of Andrew McConnel (the opening chef of M on the Bund 18 years ago), Guy Grossi, Raymond Capaldi and the like. Life was tough but it did pay off in the end. 

即便在接地气的“土澳”,不论过去还是现在,厨师依然算不上是个光彩的“正经”职业,个中艰辛与苦痛,也只有自己默默承受。

在不大的墨尔本摸爬滚打,十年光阴流转,一天也没上过厨师学校的Michael几乎是“自学成才”,烤过面包蛋糕,揉过意大利面,做过柠檬塔、焦糖布丁,最后成了墨尔本本地明星厨师Andrew McConnell(18年前M on the Bund的开业大厨)麾下一员战将,并在机缘巧合下步老师后尘,被推荐来了上海工作。

Cutler & Co, where Michael used to work

Cutler & Co, where Michael used to work

"When I was 20, my dream was to go to Europe and to work in some really nice restaurant. "

"Look at you now. "

"Now? I'm nobody."

He then showed me a picture of a recipe book written by some celebrity French chef, his recent favorite read before going to sleep. 

"Still learning. "

“20岁的时候,我想,如果有一天能去欧洲某个高级餐厅上班就好了。”

“看看现在,你想过自己会有这一天吗?”

“现在?我依然什么都不是。”

他给我看了一张照片,一本砖一样的法国菜谱书,是他最近的睡前读物。

“还有很多要学。”

 "Throw fish on me I'll cook it.  "

I became a fan of Michael's cooking because of a lobster pasta. 

Apart from the obviously large population of Chinese/Asian immigrants, Melbourne's Italian community has also played a critical role in shaping up the city's dining habits...After world war II, the influx of Italian immigrants has not only laid a solid foundation for Melbourne's now flourishing coffee scene, but also brought better pasta techniques. 

喜欢上Michael的菜,是从一盘龙虾意面开始的。

如果,你对澳洲的印象还停留在英联邦的罪犯流放地,那我真是要好好给你洗脑了。除了人数众多的华裔移民,墨尔本亦有着深厚的意大利渊源:二战后陆续到来的意大利移民,不仅为墨尔本引以为傲的咖啡文化奠下坚实的基础,更带来了美味的手工面条。

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However, at a French restaurant as French as PHÉNIX(where the oyster has to be strictly French), you probably shouldn't take a pasta dish too serious (it was an off menu special and I only found out because Michael told about it. ) But it was actually one of the best pasta dishes I've had in Shanghai: handmade, al dente, with a simple sauce and fresh lobster tails...all makes it a rare find in this city (OS: I did hear there's a few big names coming to Shanghai for future pasta competition...) 

It's on the menu now. 😂

Speaking of lobster, or any kind of seafood, you know for an Aussie grown up next to the sea, it's instinct that comes in play. Go fishing, you don't even need a bait to get a dinner feast...top quality, no compete. 

在连生蚝都只用法国蚝的“严肃法餐”Phenix,Michael的“玩票”龙虾意面,本是写不进菜单的。

偏偏这盘面,兼有韧性与嚼劲,加上调味简单、轻盈不黏腻的茄味龙虾汁,新鲜弹牙、肉质紧实的龙虾尾,在意式手工面稀缺的上海,足够珍贵、也足以让人留恋,居然从“隐藏菜单”变成了“常规菜品”,也不枉我这一年来的连番安利啦!

论及龙虾,一个靠海长大的澳洲人,面对海鲜的游刃有余,大约算得上一种本能。那漫长的海岸线,就是取之不尽、用之不竭的海鲜宝藏。

About 3 weeks ago in South OZ  Dinner, from sea to table

About 3 weeks ago in South OZ

Dinner, from sea to table

"Throw fish on me I'll cook it."

Hell yeah. 

But eating seafood in OZ can be awkward. It's either overcooked or overseasoned, a lot of the times. 

Michael has quite the opposite approach which I really appreciate. It's always simple and clean, never overdoing the work, leaving the room for you to taste the flavor of the seafood, or any other ingredients. 

Another major plus, as far as French cuisine is concerned, it's really light on the palate

I thought he picked it up during his days in Mediterranean, turned out he learned the trick in China, catering to local palate

“扔条鱼给我,包你满意。”

就是这样自信!

但如果你在澳洲吃海鲜,常会遭遇一件尴尬事:不是咸了就是老了。

Michael的菜,却几乎与澳洲同胞背道而驰:干净清爽,简单调味,不过度烹饪,尽可能展现食材原有的风味,相对多数“土澳”厨师而言(抑或就法餐而言),出人意料地“口淡”。

我以为他的“淡口味”是在去地中海游学时候学的,其实吧,人家是来了中国才变这样的……

Even the charcuterie board is unexpectedly light n healthy

Even the charcuterie board is unexpectedly light n healthy

Although for years, Sichuanese and spicy food has been the indisputably most popular food trend in China, the Chinese tends to dislike heavy flavors when it comes to western food (unless it's chips, fried chicken or pizza). Michael has taken advantage of this preference, marrying it to his belief in healthy food and fresh ingredients. 

"I wanted PHÉNIX to become the kind of restaurant you could go more than once in a week."

相较嗜吃川湘麻辣的重口味,西餐党们的确算得上小清新,遇上了超咸口的法国乡村菜,基本都要举白旗投降。入乡随俗的Michael,渐渐发现本地人的淡口味,与自己历来追捧的健康与新鲜,其实一脉相承。

"我希望,Phenix是那种你可以一周吃不止一次的餐厅……

“所以,太咸口没法吃啊!"

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And it also turned out his food is not only palate-pleasing but also quite eye-soothing. For example, this beautiful cut of the codfish floating above a green sea of broad beans, covered in thin-sliced abalone, embraced by a tender hug of foam that reminds of [the tip of a wave] or the morning mist; two tiny purple flowers, sleeping amongst a throng of seaweed-like dills, painting a tranquil early spring view of a seaside fairytale...

Hold your breath, instagram it, it's an art piece.  

Sharp color contrast, clean geometrics, coupled with garnishes of edible herbs and flowers (and never too much of it!), the plating has always been delicate, exquisite and meticulous...you know how much effort was made.

Michael的菜,除了好吃,还很好看。春季菜单里有一道鳕鱼,就是好例子。

一方洁白鳕鱼,浮在碧绿豆海之上,覆着片得极薄的小鲍鱼,泡沫晶莹,如海浪拍岸,又似雾霭迷蒙,两朵紫蚕豆花,画龙点睛般缀在海草般的莳萝丛中,一幅早春海景图,呼之欲出。

鲜明的撞色,简洁的几何构图,恰到好处但不喧宾夺主的花花草草,精致、细腻、一丝不苟……光是看看摆盘,就知道Chef花了多少心思,当然也可能是天蝎座的控制欲太强烈。

here's antoher pastry chef turned chef  Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit

here's antoher pastry chef turned chef

Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit

When he talked about the old days of making Crème brûlée and lemon tarts, I seemed to find my answer. Almost all chefs I knew who started out this way had something in common, great taste, a little OCD, gifted in plating...

I bet that beef tongue covered in "birdshit" (gribiche sauce) was an accident (lol). 

聊到他在饼房做甜点出身,这才恍然大悟:我知道的每一个甜点师出身的主厨,都有双审美过人的眼睛,都有点“强迫症”,也都在摆盘上造诣惊人。

冷切肉里盖了一层“鸟屎”的牛舌,大概是个意外(笑)。

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 Star-loss paranoia?  

This April marks Michael's 5 year anniversary at the PuLi. Coming to Shanghai, getting a star might be the work of odds in favor, but it's not sheer luck. 

This spring menu, born out of self-claimed star-loss paranoia, was the best of Michael's creation. Grab it before it's gone, this fine but very short spring days of Shanghai. You can also find more about Spring Menus You Should Check Out Before It's Gone!

这个4月,Michael在璞丽就满5年了。来上海工作,或许是个巧合,拿到这颗星星,是上天的眷顾,却不尽是偶然。

春季菜单发布之前,Michael有过一段很紧张的状态,也曾自我调侃,感觉自己得了“失星疯”。

所以,Phenix的这张春季菜单,不是一般的用力。

看似简单的菜单里,却实在不简单。Less is more,吃得出创意,更吃得出一颗倾尽全力的心。

你看,一眨眼都立夏了,不如去璞丽抓住春天的尾巴夏天的头,试试这个童心未泯的大男孩用心准备的这一餐;除了下面的菜品,新菜还可以去看 这几张春季菜单,米其林侦探早就吃起来了

Text & Photo :喜北 aka Xiaoyi

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