In his 20-year culinary career, Paris-trained and China-born Chef Stephane Yu, 40, has had the privilege of serving up international cuisine to guests from all over the world. But his most memorable experience is probably cooking for Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Professor Klaus Schwab.
Appointed three consecutive times to the culinary team for the Summer Davos forum held bi-annually in Dalian, Chef Yu’s creative interpretations of local delicacies earned him praise from WEF’s head honcho.
Starting his career at 18 years old, Chef Yu studied at Ecole Internationale Maxim’s de Paris before working at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris and subsequently five-star hotels across China.
“The most unforgettable flavour is the taste of home,” said Chef Yu, who shared that he was thrilled at being able to return to his hometown of Dalian after spending many years abroad.
Catch a glimpse of Chef Yu in action and read on for our interview as he shares about what visitors to the northeastern Chinese coastal city should not miss.
As the head chef at Fraser Suites Dalian, which opened in March, Chef Yu’s typical day starts with a morning market run to source the freshest ingredients needed at all-day dining seafood brasserie 39oN. Drawing inspiration from European and Chinese influences, on the menu are inventive twists to local favourites such as 66o onsen tamago with sea urchin (see main photo), a skilfully executed dish comprising sea urchins harvested from the cold waters of Dalian and organic eggs immersed in 66-degree Celsius spring water.
What are a few local dishes you would recommend to a first-time visitor to Dalian?
Blood clams with spinach is a very popular appetiser here. Spinach is boiled and tossed with garlic and mustard before being topped with fresh blood clams.
The fish of choice in Dalian is yellow croaker, which when slow-braised retains its original flavours. Usually marinated with savoury soy sauce and garnished with sliced spring onion, ginger and garlic, the result is a family-style, protein-rich dish that’s light and healthy.
You should also try pan-fried men zi. A snack typically found in northern China, it comprises sea cucumber, shrimp, squid and potato jelly. Drizzle some sesame seafood sauce for a delicious and refreshing taste!
How are you incorporating local specialties at 39oN?
The surrounding Yellow Sea and inland Bohai Sea serve up a rich variety of seafood, including prized catches such as abalone and sea urchin. These have been given a fresh spin at our seafood brasserie, and you’ll find dishes such as sous vide marinated octopus with okra, baby abalone stewed with potato and saffron risotto as well as Dalian crabmeat soup with puff pastry.
Diners can also savour local favourites such as men zi and popular Singaporean fare such as Hainanese chicken rice and bak kut teh (pork bone soup). The latter are inspired by Frasers Hospitality’s heritage as a company that started 20 years ago in Singapore.
What is your favourite dish from your menu?
The 66o onsen tamago with sea urchin (see main photo). Sea urchins from Dalian are very tasty, and we serve it with egg boiled for 20 minutes in 66-degree Celsius spring water. At this precise temperature, the egg white will begin to set while the yolk is still soft and tender, retaining the best nutritional value of the egg. The sea urchin will also be kept fresh.
Have you encountered any unusual requests from guests?
There was one occasion when a guest wanted to cook a special meal in her apartment for her husband’s birthday. I recommended a few dishes she could try and helped with the preparation of some of the ingredients and cooking. With our assistance, she successfully impressed her husband with a home-cooked birthday dinner.
Being able to meet the needs of guests from countries all over the world by serving food they love and allowing them to return to ‘home away from home’ every day makes my job meaningful.
Fraser Suites Dalian is a serviced apartment and guests are regarded as family. We strive to always give our customers memorable experiences.
Can you share with us a simple recipe that guests can try out in their own apartments?
Fried Clams with Spring Onion and Ginger
Clams from Dalian Bay 500g
Spring onion 50g
Fresh chilli 10g
Cooking oil 30ml
Soy sauce 15ml
Heat the cooking oil in a pan then add the shredded spring onion, ginger and chilli for flavour. Pour in the clams and cover for 2-3 minutes.
To retain the juices from the clams, don’t add any water during cooking. Chef Yu also recommends buying the clams from Changxing seafood market along Xi’an Road in Shahekou District, which is a 20-minute drive from Fraser Suites Dalian.
Catch more of our chefs in action in our Chefs with an Attitude video series, where chefs in our properties across the world are challenging one another to see who can whet appetites of most viewers.