Forty-Five is now complete with The Cristal Room by Anne-Sophie Pic, whose acclaimed chef shares with Prestige the journey that brought her from southeast France to Hong Kong.
Six months after Forty-Five opened at the top of Gloucester Tower in Central, the art-meets-gastronomy space’s complement of dining concepts has been completed with the arrival of The Cristal Room by Anne-Sophie Pic.
With a family heritage and personal pedigree like Pic’s, it’s hardly surprising the restaurant’s opening was among last year’s most anticipated culinary events in this city. If leading her family’s three-Michelin-star Maison Pic in Valence weren’t enough, her talent, skill and mastery in the kitchen have earned her more such accolades than any other female chef in the world. Following in both her grandfather and her father’s footsteps, Pic has managed to keep the family name synonymous with gastronomic perfection, but the journey she took to achieve that was far more difficult than you might imagine.
In her early years, a kitchen wasn’t something she’d ever considered entering, much less helming. “I’ve been fortunate that my parents had always let me gain my own experiences and never imposed any pressure regarding my career choices,” Pic reflects, as she takes a short break during her recent visit to Hong Kong for the restaurant’s opening. “When I was young, I didn’t envision myself with a culinary career. I wanted to be a designer and work in the luxury industry.”
That initial dream took her to Japan and the US, where she worked with Cartier and Moët & Chandon before eventually discovering her passion for cooking. And though she then set her sights on returning to the family business, the process also proved more difficult than she’d wished.
“Since I gained the insight that the kitchen was a part of me and my DNA, I realised my destiny was to learn alongside my father to develop and prolong our brand, which is also my family name. Both my father and my grandfather’s cuisines were revolutionary in their flavour combinations and aesthetics, and they’re true inspirations for me,” she says. “Unfortunately, my father passed away only a few months after my return, so I had to create my own path.”
In 1995, when Pic took over Maison Pic, the restaurant lost its third Michelin star. It took 12 years of innovation and hard work for her to regain it, when she also became only the fourth woman chef ever to achieve that grail.
“When I took over Maison Pic in 1995, it was a real challenge to create my own experience and allow the restaurant to endure through tough times,” Pic admits. “Winning back the third Michelin star for our restaurant in 2007 was a tribute to the memory of my father and I was truly delighted to be the third generation of chefs in my family to have achieved it. But rather than it being the destination, I took it as a new beginning. It meant I could continue to tread my own path, and gave me a renewed sense of freedom.
“As a self-made woman, it was a double reward, because it required a lot of conviction, perseverance, and faith to make a name in a decidedly male-dominated field,” Pic adds. “Perhaps because of this difference in gender, I felt a certain freedom and boldness to create my own style, and I hope I can inspire other women to follow their convictions and encourage them to embrace their own personalities and cuisines.”
Naturally, when the time came for the luxury crystal house Baccarat to open The Cristal Room in Hong Kong, Pic was the first choice to lead it. “I’ve loved and admired Anne-Sophie Pic for a very long time and it’s a great honour to partner with her,” says the brand’s CEO Maggie Henriquez. “She shares Baccarat’s passion, boldness and virtuosity. Her refined palate, impeccable balance and striking flavour combinations will undoubtedly delight our guests. As the world’s most Michelin-starred female chef, she’s the ideal partner to create a one-of-a-kind journey of French art de vivre.”
With this new collaboration, the two women hope to celebrate not only French culture but also the two brands’ love for – and connection with – Asia. While you’ll find family staples such as seabass with caviar, a dish that’s featured on the Pic menu for more than five decades, the restaurant also offers refreshing new plates that include Chinese pea from Hunan served with geranium rosat leaves, sake lees, tsukudani and gyokuro, and Petrossian Baika caviar, and Les Berlingots ASP with sobacha pasta filled with Brie de Meaux AOP and mushroom consommé infused with Tonka bean.
“Asia has always been a great source of inspiration for me,” says Pic. “I’ve always loved its diverse and dynamic array of flavours, herbs and spices, many of which continue to accompany me today. I reappropriate and interpret them using French cuisine codes to showcase my vision of Asia. As a chef, my main goal is to evoke emotion, to generate envy and curiosity and in some cases to leave a lasting impression.
“I had the opportunity to explore Hong Kong during my studies when I was younger, and I’m delighted to open a new restaurant here. It’s an opportunity to continue my exploration of the Asian continent, which holds a special place in my heart. Through The Cristal Room by Anne-Sophie Pic, I aim to imprint my personal style on Hong Kong’s culinary scene and share my interpretation
of Asian aromas and flavours with guests.”