From a neighbourhood restaurant tucked away in St Francis Yard, Wan Chai, to its fifth branch in Lai Chi Kok opened this month, Pici surely captures the hearts of many pasta lovers. In the second episode of the 4 Questions in 4 Minutes series, we sat down with Chef Andrea and Davide to learn about the restaurant concept and their views on food photography.
For people who are not familiar with your restaurant, what cuisine and experience is your restaurant known for?
Davide: Pici is an Italian restaurant specialising in fresh pasta made in-house daily. We took our Italian root and adapted to the Hong Kong market. At Pici, you can see us making pasta all day long from the window, and we do it on a daily basis, never for the day after. We import fresh ingredients, like eggs, flour, cheese, Parma ham and all the essentials to make pasta from Italy, therefore, the quality of our pasta is maintained.
One of your dishes, Girasoli, has become a social media sensation. Why do you think the dish is so successful?
Andrea: Girasoli is a ravioli dish with a sauce made of asparagus, mascarpone, ricotta and a fresh egg yolk inside each one. There is the Carbonara version with bacon in the menu. We also have a vegetarian version made with Porcini mushroom. This has become quite popular on social media as its colour and shape resemble the sun when you look at it. Some people come in in the afternoon and sit by the window, barely eating it but taking a lot of pictures. It is interesting to see how the presentation affects people’s desire for the dish.
Speaking of taking photos, what do you think of professional food photography and styling?
Davide: In a fast-paced city like Hong Kong, pictures play an important role in everything. We find many people coming to our restaurant, not having been here before, with pictures in their phones, and making the order accordingly. Even I do it sometimes when I go to a new restaurant. Just to see what they serve on social media. When we talk about social media, we mean right now, so you’ve got to have dishes visually-appealing to the customers for them to eat with their eyes before actually tasting the food, and professional food photography is just as important to show newcomers what they can expect from us.
That said, how do you see social media’s food photography trend and how does it affect your work?
Andrea: As chefs, we are mainly concerned about serving amazing food in the perfect shape at the perfect time, but we also understand how a nice picture can be worth more than a nice description of the dish. After all, everything revolves around social media nowadays, so I think it’s interesting to see how Dishtag takes the idea and connects us with the customers.