Time Out Family catches up with Ignace Lecleir, father of three and proprietor of Beijing fine-dining institutions TRB Hutong and TRB Forbidden City.
How long have you lived in Beijing?
Since 2007, when I opened the restaurant Maison Boulud for chef Daniel Boulud.
How well have your kids adjusted to Beijing?
Both the boys – Olivier (6) and Fabien (5) – were born here, so it was only our daughter Paris (13) who needed a little time to get familiar with the local environment. But thanks to her previous years spent in New York,
a city full of hustle and bustle, she adapted quickly as Beijing is also filled with energy and constant buzz.
How do you divide childcare?
My wife Jennifer works at Beijing United Hospital, and I truly have
to thank my family for being very understanding about my profession, as long hours are inevitable in the restaurant business. My wife mostly takes care of the children during the week, and whenever I have time off, the entire family enjoys spending time together.
Temple Restaurant Beijing is set within the walls of a 600-year-old temple complex.
What are your favourite family activities in Beijing?
We often go for long hikes in the rural areas along the Great Wall, and also like to stay at hotels in Beijing – it’s interesting to be a tourist in your own
city. Our favourite park is Ritan Park. Its tranquility and elegance have an overpowering effect on me no matter how many times we go.
What languages do you all use?
Predominantly English. The children all speak fluent Chinese and enjoy using it when they’re exchanging secrets that they don’t want their parents to understand.
Just last week, Fabien was playing in the park, when a Chinese boy
of his age called him a waiguoren (foreigner). Fabien got very upset and replied that he is a Beijingren (Beijinger). I think both the boys, having been born in Beijing, truly feel at home here and have a strong tie with Chinese society and culture.
What restaurants do you like?
We frequently visit The Taco Bar and Moka Bros in Sanlitun. East Hotel is also an ideal place for families.
What advice do you have for expat dads new to Beijing?
The only suggestion that I can give is for parents to encourage their children to embrace the different cultures and diversity. There’s abundant opportunity here and it’s invaluable in life. There’s almost
no other place in the world at the moment that’s quite as dynamic and lively as Beijing.