« Bao Family is my world, it’s the place I’ve created for myself, it’s everything I love: a cuisine with complex flavors but with a taste of come back in, traditional but modern dishes,
design places between Paris and Shanghai. »
The Bao Family is composed of the Petit Bao, the canteen on Saint-Denis street which popularized the Bao! And the Big Bao (opened last July), whose challenge is to highlight and make accessible flagship dishes of the 8 culinary styles of China such as the Peking style lacquered duck, the Siu Bao float from the canton or the lu rou fan from Taiwan.
The decoration of Gros Bao is signed by the architects Mur.Mur.
Céline, you are the founder of Petit Bao and Gros Bao, tell us about yourself?
I am 31 years old, I am Franco-Chinese and I had a classical schooling, being the true cliché of the Asian student! I went to a preparatory school and a business school. I started my career in fashion, at Chanel, which was great as I have always been fascinated by fashion, by the French know-how and luxury craftsmanship. After a year I left for a consulting company, I worked for CAC 40 companies. It was intellectually interesting because I was confronted with very different companies and this diversity satisfied my thirst for learning. As my parents had a leather goods shop in the center of Paris, I used to watch them as a child, while playing with the boxes, and very quickly setting up my own project became obvious! I turned to cooking, which was a total reconversion, because I knew nothing about it! I started as a waitress at PNY, then the founder Rudy proposed me to accompany them as their right-hand man. I had in mind to set up a cool Chinese restaurant in Paris, I wanted to restore the image of this very rich and varied cuisine, and break the clichés. When I was a child, my mother only cooked Chinese and I was too happy to eat French fries in the canteen! In order to know and learn Chinese cuisine, I went to China where I toured the regions, and learnt to cook with Chinese chefs in Shanghai. In fact, it is there that I elaborated the menu of my future restaurant! When I decided to open my restaurant Petit Bao, my parents were quite disappointed, they didn’t understand my choice even though I had a degree! Opening a restaurant was not a noble enough profession in their eyes. I didn’t tell them right away that I was opening Petit Bao!
What is your relationship with fashion?
I love fashion. The way we dress embodies our personality. Through clothing, we communicate who we are. It is an expression of yourself that you show to the world. A garment can help you gain power and energy. I create a character and a universe with clothes. I like to mix materials and be comfortable; I like to be able to move. My personal style, even if it is causal, is made of mixtures between the East and the West. Moreover the Valentine Gauthier Lanis Picea Print dress that I wear reminds me of traditional Chinese dresses by its prints.
Are there any common points between fashion and cooking?
Yes, of course! the know-how, the requirement and the importance of choosing the products well and treating them well! In a successful garment, every detail has been thought of just as every step is thought of to make a tasty and beautiful dish. The way we cut a vegetable or a piece of meat, just like the way we cut a garment, contributes to its beauty.
What do you like about Valentine Gauthier’s collections?
The mix of print and material. Her fashion makes me travel.
It is a sensual fashion whose fluidity and colors help me to get out of a hard reality. It transports me to another space-time!
Do you also believe that nothing will ever be the same again?
It has made me change things! I allow myself, for example, more time to create, to think or to do nothing. Fridays are a day dedicated to inspiration, I allow myself to go for a walk, to read, to write. I finally give myself moments to refocus, before I was in a frantic rhythm Slowing down has been beneficial to me and I have the impression that many people have reflected on what is really important to them and the relationships they want to have with others.
Do you systematically look at the “made in” of a garment or an accessory?
Yes, I like to know where and how the clothes I wear are made. I am ready to pay more because I am aware of the social and human cost of cheapness. Clothes and food can also be political acts!
Being vigilant about the origin of the products, respecting the seasons and distances, knowing who makes the clothes are also a way to put your philosophy of life in line with your actions.