James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Qui levels up the dining experience at Pao with a new sustainably sourced seafood program including a crudo bar and a fresh take on his Asian- inflected menu.
“I’ve always been known for my seafood and raw product,” says Qui, whose fish market restaurant Golfstrømmen in Houston (a joint venture with Norwegian chef Christopher Haatuft) was just lauded as the best restaurant in the city by acclaimed food critic Alison Cook. “So, I think it’s the appropriate time to introduce that to Pao for our next iteration. ”Diners will be able to select from a bevy of fresh catch including Maine scallops and lobsters, sea urchins from Santa Barbara, Florida stone crab, and Gulf Coast snapper and swordfish. “We will also have a selection of oysters from all American coasts, plus a healthy choice of caviar,” Qui noted. Qui is passionate about working with responsible purveyors who are minimizing their environmental impact and transparent about their fishing and farming methods.
“It’s important to know where we’re sourcing our seafood from and understanding how it gets to Pao and on a plate in front of our guests,” he explained.
A few of Qui’s preferred vendors include The Santa Barbara Fish Market, which provides high-quality wild harvested seafood and True Fin, an eco-conscious company that buys fully traceable seafood from fisherman in the Gulf of Maine. “For our signature roasted whole fish, I’m looking into Desert Springs Barramundi in the desert of Arizona which raises sustainably farmed Barramundi in a Colorado River-fed aquifer."
The clean-tasting white fish are gently handled and fed a premium feed free of antibiotics, hormones and additives. Born in Manila, Philippines, Qui trained in classic French and Japanese cuisine, and takes a modernist approach towards food, marrying classical technique with local flavors while drawing inspiration from Filipino, Japanese, Spanish, and French culinary styles. With the launch of the Michelin Guide in Miami this year, Qui has stars in his eyes.
“It takes a lot of discipline, focus and passion to get a Michelin star,” said the chef, “all of which our team has.”