A luxury restaurant located in the heart of Shanghai which proposes excellent cuisine signed by the talented Sicilian Chef Riccardo La Perna (awarded two Michelin stars and four Gambero Rosso forks). 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana is the third restaurant of the group opened after other two well-known Michelin-starred restaurants located in Hong Kong (3 stars since 2011) and in Macau (one star since 2015 and considered as one of the best restaurant in China). Here in Shanghai, Chef La Perna delights his international guests by offering sophisticated culinary creations characterized by a contemporary taste and a strong Italian touch. We had a pleasant chat with him on the current state of the catering sector.

A number of restaurants are opening, many others cease their activity shortly after their lunch. In your opinion, what doesn’t work?

“I think there’s a lot of improvisation, especially in those restaurants located in sea and tourist sites. Opening a restaurant means knowing how to manage it, how to cuddle customer; it is a true art, it can’t be born out of the blue. It is not enough just to have a good chef or a nice location (sometimes a genuine smile is priceless): you must have an actual project and know how to do deal well with it, as it isn’t so easy to run such a business. I notice that many people do not even know what a food cost or a NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) is: in this case the support of an expert is needed. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel: many talented and enterprising young people with a sincere desire to start up a business in the catering sector. During my last trip to Sicily I had very positive experiences, too. I realized there are some promising realities, a source of great hope for the future”.

In the megacity of Shanghai, Riccardo La Perna promotes the traditional Italian cuisine made of simple flavours, high-quality ingredients and characterized by a great sense of hospitality. For six years now, he has been at the head of this extraordinary restaurant where every single gesture has a great value. Together with his loyal staff, he keeps on creating dishes rich of innovation, refined techniques, and made with few ingredients to give each recipe a sense of authenticity.

Customers are looking for authenticity and when they find it, we are fully rewarded

Riccardo La Perna

Unfortunately, some young chefs are interested only in “showing off” their progress by proposing dishes made of a jumble of things, just to get a “wow effect”. Take, for example, the caponata – Riccardo La Perna says- the most typical Sicilian dish (baroque, fragrant, colourful and bright): it should be done well, however it is really difficult to find the authentic and a perfect caponata”.

Shanghai – he continues – boasts an international clientele ranging from the Japanese industrialist to the banker coming from Singapore. We offer the most authentic Italian cooking blended with the most genuine hospitality. The strength of our cuisine lies in the goodness of the raw materials used and in the simplicity of the preparations. Among my dishes, it’s worth mentioning the tuna tartar with caviar, pasta with sea urchins seasoned with Sicilian almond oil, or the cinnamon-and-rosemary steamed lobster served with its lemon-flavoured consommé: simple plates at first glance, but once tasted, you immediately feel that behind every dish there is a great work made of creativity, sleepless nights, very important gestures that make the difference”.

What would you say to young people willing to become a chef or open a restaurant?

“I see a frustrated generation: everyone aspires to become the new Master Chef. They believe they know a lot, but actually they lack of real experiences on the field. My suggestion? Go out, work in other kitchens, measure up with your peers, travel! And be humble”.

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