Today, we are glad to receive a Michelin star chef, Nicolas Lebec who just moved to Shanghai, and created a new concept, the Villa Lebec, a gastronomic space in the heart of the old french concession, based on French Interview.
1 – Hi Nicolas, could you please describe to us the Villa ?
The Villa Lebec is a beautiful house built in 1920 nested under some hundred-year old trees from Xinhua street, taking advantage of a rareful private garden localized in the heart of Shanghai.
It’s a very well preserved house that have been in the past, an official chinese military residence.
So it’s in this idyllic landscape where is born the Villa Lebec, a pleasure and greed place. It’s a philosphy, an authentic and sincere art that livein this majestic house. The Villa is trustful to a french exceptional cooking tradition and to its sophisticated, quiet and warm. It differs by its ability to integrate modernity and hopes of a new generation of visitors. It lives with its time and keeps its essentail values of a high class welcome, that is what animate the Villa Lebec.
2 – Could you present to us the Villa in figures ?
Since the opening in april 2014 of the bistro 321 and the Villa Lebec, the average attendance is 250 flatwares per day.
The Villa opens its doors from Tuesday night to Sunday night, for all the year exept the chinese new year.
- The team counts aroud 50 persons, all chinese (cooking, pastry and bakery) who assist me everyday.
- An average of 70 bottles of wine everyday
- 40 round loafs of bread are eaten
- We sella round 120kg of foie gras
- 200 wagyu peaces of beef are grilled
- and more than 3000 Nespresso coffees are served each month
- 250 flatwares per day
La villa Lebec
3 – Do the chinese public eat the same meals than french people, what do they love the most ?
Opening a restaurant in China means being faced to the unknown from the opening. We don’t know in advance who will be our customers. Chinese are not used to our cooking and to our local products. We want to keep this exotic restaurant image for them. In the same way that when we eat in a chinese restaurant in our country, we look for food that will hits our taste buds and changing our culinary habits. I was surprised to see that since the begining, 80% of our customers are from Asia and from all generations. Some products attract them so much like bread, foie gras, frog legs, beef, snails, terrines, pie out, french oysters, and of course cheese and pasteries that are as oysters, the main products of our new generation.
4 – Have you been surprised by chinese behaviour ? If yes, by what ?
China and chinese people surprise me everyday. They surprise me by their epicurean consumption, by the pleasure that they feel when they discover our local products. They are very convivial and appreciate le table pleasure. It’s a real happiness to see them eating, sharing, i simply love it !
5 – What is the biggest challenge in the restauration in China ?
The biggest challenge is to keep up, lay low, and to learn, interpret and dread a community needs that evolve month by month. In China, the product of yesterday may not be the tomorrow’s product. To finish, our biggest challenge is to keep the good production and the regularity of the restaurant.
6 – The Villa Lebec is a real success, restaurant always full, what are the 3 kees to succeed with a restaurant in Shanghai ?
The Villa Lebec is actually working well with a really good public. We became known thanks to the word of mouth only without any media support. The 3 secret of success are the following ones :
- The idyllic and awesome environment in the heart of one of the biggest metropolis of the world.
- The hard work that my chinese wife and me have done (my wife is really important)
- Discipline, passion, and rigor are the main words of our success to keep a qualitative work. We contrôle and improve daily what doesn’t works well.
7 – What are the next steps of the Villa ?
Our purpose is to hold the quality and stay focused on the Villa.
We hope to create a training school and train our team to the cooking art. Our ambition is to open before the end of the year a gastronomic space for 20 flatwares for the night.
We hope to put in place a tasting shop of the wines of the best french wine growers that we import directly.
8 – What is the most successful meal with your customers ?
- the chinese or imported wagyu beef
- imported oysters
- the foie gras, that stays, for me, the number 1
9 – The Villa Lebec is also events, could you tell us more about this aspect.
The Villa’s area surface is up to 900m2 inside and 900m2 outside for the garden and the terrace. This space allows the renting of private lounges or complete privatization for families, business lunches or big luxury companies.
10 – Do you have a little story/advice to share about China and Chinese ?
China in incredibly surprising. Things are not easy, but at the end, with some patience, all is possible…
In China, it’s important to be patient !
3 informations to know :
1/ Villa Lebec Adress : 上海市长宁区新华路321号, 靠近定西路
Shanghai changning qu xinhua lu 321
2/ The Website : http://lebec.com.cn/
3/ To book : +86 21 62 41 91 00 – [email protected]