Picada’s new tastemaker Chef Andrés introduces a new conceptual menu with experiential culinary thread running through different courses, in tandem with the restaurant’s new location in Lan Kwai Fong. We sat down with the 32-year-old talent after our visual menu photoshoot to learn more about his diverse approach to South American cuisine and his view on food photography.
Can you tell us about your background?
I’m from Patagonia, Chile, the furthest place from Hong Kong (haha). I came to HK and joined Picada 4 months ago because of my friend, Gustavo (the restaurant manager), whom I have worked together with for many restaurants in Brazil for a long time — 13 years, which is essentially my whole life as a young chef! That’s why I am very happy to be working with him, and the rest of the team here to create this beautiful and experiential menu.
How do you compose a menu?
When I, or the team, have an idea, we will share with each other. Then we try and discuss, and try and discuss again. So it’s like a creative kitchen group between the 6 of us, where everybody can put something into the dish. For this new menu we created, we actually use the same product for a set of dishes, like with pumpkin we make the soup, side dish, main course and dessert, so it’s efficient and practical in terms of preparation. We also have a really good kitchen-floor relationship here at Picada, which is rare in a restaurant setting, but this definitely streamlines the operations and facilitates an outstanding guest experience.
Can you tell us more about the vegan options in your menu?
Of course. I used to be a vegetarian but the food options in restaurants were generally very limited, usually only salad. Our idea is to change the bland impression of vegetarian diet by adding a vegan twist to classic food, like vegan churros and vegan gnocchi. Another thing we are proud of our menu is it being entirely gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy their meals in Picada.
Likewise, our Omni Pork Pie is in fact a stew of plant – eggplant, zucchini and other vegetables, and on top there’s humita from South America. The texture is very similar to pork but it’s completely plant-based. That’s also the idea for Picada. We turn Latin American food vegan. We experiment with a lot of fruits to give dishes a bittersweet flavour, which is largely inspired by Brazilian cuisine!
In terms of drinks, do you pair drinks with the food menu?
Absolutely. We actually build our new menu around 4 different territories — The Coasts, The Mountains, The Jungles and The Countryside, each with its own pairing of drinks, which is particularly helpful for first-timers to have a complete dining experience at Picada. For example, if you want to experience The Jungle, there’s tropical food complemented by bittersweet cocktails. If you want to experience The Countryside, you will find refreshing ingredients like pumpkin, sweet corn and eggs weaved into the menu, connecting the food, dessert and drinks altogether.
Where do you source your ingredients?
We try to source from all over South America to keep it consistent. For example, the salmon and sea bass are from Chile, and the meat is from Brazil.
What do you think about food photography? Does the new trend of people taking photos of dishes affect the way you work?
Not for me few years ago. But now I think photos are very important, especially the beautiful ones like those on Dishtag as you can show how dishes really look like this way.