In the heart of London, along the scenic Thames pathway, stands Hithe + Seek, a culinary canvas where Executive Chef Fabio De Paolis, formerly of the Mandarin Oriental, illustrates his gastronomy. His new menu is a symphony of established, Hithe, and emerging, Seek, world cuisines, balancing the old and the new with a contemporary flair. Each dish is an intricate composition of aromas, textures, and flavours, designed to engage all the senses. From the rustic charm of Italy, the classic recipes of France, and the heritage touch of Algeria to the bold flavours of China, this exquisite fusion of international cuisines is set against the picturesque backdrop of the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Hithe + Seek is not just a dining destination but a journey of taste and discovery, complemented by panoramic views of the bustling capital's iconic landmarks. With a newly crafted menu, Chef Fabio De Paolis discusses his inspirations, creative process and a few highlights to look out for.
1. How would you describe your culinary career so far?
My culinary journey is a blend of travelling, restaurant and hotel properties, with a focus on 5-star establishments. These experiences have shaped my creativity, infusing my cuisine with different styles and flavours from various influences. However, after travelling the globe, London truly stands as the peak of my career. In this multi-cultural city, I find myself immersed in a variety of flavours, constantly fuelled by inspirations and influences.
2. What is the philosophy of Hithe + Seek’s cuisine?
At Hithe + Seek, our mission is to encourage our guests to embark on a captivating culinary journey, where they can experience new flavours, combinations, and culinary styles.
While our focus remains on both established (Hithe) and emerging (Seek) world cuisines, we continually add a contemporary touch into every dish, creating a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.
3. Where do you typically find inspiration for your culinary creations?
My culinary inspiration is a combination of many parameters.
From the rich backgrounds of my team, which includes individuals from approximately 10 different nationalities, each bringing a unique set of experiences and skills to the kitchen.
From chefs and culinary concepts. I see their work with admiration and they are definitely a great source of inspiration.
From the Vegan cuisine. I'm particularly drawn to the challenge of elevating vegan and vegetarian offerings to a higher level of flavour, finding ways to recreate classic with plant-based ingredients.
From my travels, which have been an invaluable source of inspiration. The flavours, techniques, and ingredients I've worked with have inspired my culinary journey with global influences.
"My approach extends to an exploration of the senses – I consider the interactions of aroma, touch, and taste, meticulously crafting each dish to offer a multi-senses experience."
- Chef Fabio De Paolis
4. Can you walk us through your creative process when crafting a new dish or menu?
When crafting a new menu, I initiate the process by engaging my team members in a collective exploration of their experiences. This collaborative approach forms the foundation of our creative journey.
I also draw inspiration from classic dishes and infuse them with a modern and innovative twist, breathing new life into traditional dishes.
In the months leading up to a menu launch, I maintain a journal where I record innovative combinations and concepts. I assess past successes and observe the preferences of our guests.
Next, I experiment with various combinations, flavours and textures until I have complete satisfaction with the final result.
My approach extends to an exploration of the senses – I consider the interactions of aroma, touch, and taste, meticulously crafting each dish to offer a multi-senses experience.
5. How would you describe the dining scene at Hithe + Seek?
It's truly an immersive experience, shaped by not only the breathtaking views on the River Thames but also the interior design and the artistry of our tableware. We present a selection of small dishes, embracing the concept of sharing. Each visit is a culinary journey, guiding guests through diverse flavours and ingredients. To complement this, our menu is thoughtfully paired with a selection of wines, reflecting on the concept of new and old world. But our beverage offerings extend beyond wine. We provide a range of classic and creatively crafted cocktails. They are an integral part of the immersive journey, designed to elevate your entire dining experience.
6. What was the inspiration For Hithe + Seek’s new menu, The Old World and The New World?
At the heart of our culinary philosophy lies a foundational concept: to present a twist on classic dishes for the old world, infusing tradition with innovation, the new world. Our aim is to take our guests on a journey where the boundaries of tradition and novelty blur.
"Our aim is to take our guests on a journey where the boundaries of tradition and novelty blur."
- Chef Fabio De Paolis
7. Personal favourite dish from the new menu and why?
Selecting a single favourite dish from our menu is a challenge, but if I had to curate a selection, it would include the following:
1. Ravioli Carbonara, Pecorino, Guanciale: This dish holds a special place in my heart due to its Italian heritage. We reimagined a classic Italian masterpiece, preserving the original ingredients while introducing a novel presentation in the form of ravioli. It's a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.
2. Sautéed Cajun-Spiced Prawn 'Cocktail,' Coconut Foam: Here, we delve into the heart of Jamaican cuisine, and offer a twist on a classic. The dish seamlessly marries Caribbean and Asian influences, taking the palate on an exhilarating journey.
3. Oyster Mushroom and Potato Shawarma: Drawing inspiration from my past role in Turkey, this creation ingeniously transforms a meat-based classic into a delectable vegan re-edition, capturing the original's rich flavours and textures. The harmonious blend of spices and diverse textures crafts an enticing and delightful experience for all.
4. Calvados Apple Pie, Vanilla Ice Cream: In a nod to the classics, we infuse a touch of innovation with the use of Calvados from our bar. This apple pie revisited is a testament to our commitment to elevating traditional favourites, resulting in a dessert that's both comforting and captivating.
All imagery is provided by Sauce Communications.