Interview: Julien Cadiou, Upper Modern Bistro

by: Angie Kwon, Editor
25 Apr 2016

Julien Cadiou is Upper Modern Bistro’s new Chef de Cuisine.  Having worked in Michelin-starred restaurants all over Paris, and working with renowned chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Kei Kobayashi, Cadiou’s developed his signature style of French gourmet inspired by Japanese cuisine. We catch up with the chef to chat about Cadiou about his background and signature dishes.

What do you strive to bring to Upper Modern Bistro?
I try to bring all my energy and motivation to the restaurant every time I step into the kitchen. I was instantly drawn to Upper Modern Bistro when I met Philippe Orrico for the first time, and I aim to continue to bring new levels of creativity to the menu and maintain the high standards of food. I can see that regular customers  become attached to the restaurant as Upper Modern Bistro is full of life, so the team must work hard to keep it that way.

Tell us about your culinary background.
I have had opportunities to participate in many projects without necessarily being in a kitchen, but still be a part of the world of gastronomy. It helped me to remain motivated, inspired, and to meet people from different worlds, as well as work with different products and various techniques. It is these meetings which gave me the desire to travel, to see other ways of working and management.

My time at Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Restaurant Kei in Paris, alongside Kei Kobayashi was my first significant experience working with Japanese ingredients and techniques. This was when I first began incorporating Japanese flavours in French cuisine, and is the main inspiration of my cross-culture menu at Upper Modern Bistro.

Which experiences have been the most influential for you?
All of my experiences made me into who I am today. Every head chef I’ve worked with taught me specific skills, but the first and most important person was my cooking instructor, where I found his passion to be the most striking. My few years at the three Michelin star restaurant of Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée were some of the most prominent. It was a daily challenge and I had to overcome a lot every day to keep my role. The team was more like a family, and we learned discipline, organisation, standards, and to do our best every day.

Tell us about your signature dishes and the inspiration behind them.
My signature dishes are a combination of everything I’ve seen, done or tasted in the past. I keep the elements I like and I add my own ideas, discovering different flavours from spices and ingredients. Traveling exposes me to different products, and I choose my favourites to adapt. The caramelised octopus with white miso and mixed herbs is one of my favourite signature dishes, as it is a light and refreshing dish that incorporates the flavours of Japan, with French herbs. The onsen egg with piperade emulsion combines Japanese ingredients such as edamame beans and the classic onsen egg with very traditional French flavours, such as a piperade emulsion.

What is your cooking philosophy?
Good food using good seasonings, simple cooking techniques, and a flavourful sauce to go with it. We don’t have to transform a product in order to get good flavours – a nicely cooked vegetable with a simple seasoning is often enough.

What is your favourite comfort food?
French food, as it can be rich and comforting, but also light and refreshing at the same time.

What are your favourite bars in Hong Kong?
Unfortunately, I haven’t really had time to discover many places in Hong Kong. The Upper House is great for a drink, as is ON Dining Lounge – the perfect escape from the streets of Central in the early evening.

If you weren’t a chef, what career would you have chosen?
Since the age of nine I wanted to become a chef, so now it’s hard to imagine doing anything else! I’ve never been good at mathematics, but finance would have tempted me.

Upper Modern Bistro 6-14 Upper Station St, Sheung Wan, 2517 0977 ;