Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre Answers Our Quick Q&A and Gives His Hawker Recommendations, TooFebruary 21, 2020
- Pamela CortezWords
Andre Chiang is quite the personality. His restaurants around the world showcase his singular philosophy, and he has become one of the faces of fine dining in Singapore. His flagship eponymous restaurant, Andre, has built up an incredible culinary reputation since it opened almost 5 years ago, racking up accolades left and right, consistently landing on San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. When you’ve found a seat in his dining room, everything you’ve ever heard about the famed chef comes to light: each plate is an amalgamation of Chiang’s background and vision, an artistic and insanely delicious piece of work. We at Pepper had the chance to ask the enigmatic chef a few questions, and here’s what he had to say.
1. What’s the memory behind your “Memory” dish?
A fond memory of a timeless dish, created in 1997. I first created this dish while working at Le Jardin des Sens for Jacques and Laurent, the Pourcel twin brothers. At the time, it had two Michelin stars. I presented the dish to the brothers, they liked it, and I was very proud when they agreed to put it on the menu because they picked it out of 35 other dishes by European chefs. It was the first dish I made that gave me the confidence to create things as an Asian chef in a hardcore French kitchen. So every day when I prepare the dish, it reminds me of where I came from, of the hardships and lessons I have gone through.
2. How did your current menu evolve, and how different is it from your previous one?
One thing that we do very differently from the others is that not only do we follow the season, we let our artisan farmers and fishermen pick the best arrivals of that morning for our menu. This means that we don’t know what is coming until we open the box of produce when it arrives. In a way, I’d say the evolution is every day.
3. What would you say is the dish that defined your career?
: ) The last dish I will make before I retire.
4. Your style of cooking is definitely more highbrow and leans towards French influence and fine dining, but was there a time you were inspired by local food in Singapore?
I guess nowadays cuisine is becoming very personal; it’s not necessarily categorized by French or local anymore. I have a background of French roots, but now I cook with and become inspired by the things I believe in, like with Octaphilosophy, not really by local food.
5. What food trends in Singapore do you think are taking off? Do you feel the need to keep up with these food trends?
Local grown produce is taking off; but we started our farm in Taiwan 2 years ago, where we grow our own vegetables with minimized carbon footprint, so we are not really affected since it’s something we’ve been doing for a while.
6. You’re known for your detailed eye in plating. Take us through the process of how one constructs the aesthetic elements of a dish.
I grew up in an artistic family; my family members include a designer, Chinese calligrapher, actor, and chef. I myself love pottery, sculpture, and painting. I guess it plays an important part of how I construct a dish; when it comes, it comes naturally.
7. You recently went back to Taipei to open a restaurant. What did that feel like?
Restaurant Andre in Singapore, Porte 12 in France, Raw in Taiwan, these are 3 places I’ve called home in different stages of my life. Having these 3 restaurants and presenting cuisine that is tied to the different periods of my life is emotional for me.
8. How is it different from Restaurant Andre’s philosophy? Is it more personal since it’s sort of a homecoming?
Completely different, I never repeat the same dish or concept. Every restaurant need to have its own DNA. I wouldn’t say it’s more personal than the others – at every stage of my life, I am still just Andre. It is an interesting feeling to reimagine and recapture memories from childhood and memories shared with family.
9. Are you affected by restaurant rankings?
I’m not affected, and I always tell my team not to be affected. The true ranking is by how many happy guests we have everyday.
10. A fun tip: can you recommend top 3 local/hawker stalls in Singapore and what to order?
1. Laksa – Only one option: Sungei Road Laksa (Kelantan Lane) Blk 31 Kelantan Lane #01-12, Singapore
2. Chicken Rice – Chicken Rice with chicken thigh: Tian Tian Chicken Rice at Maxwell Hawker Centre
3. Kok Kee Wanton Mee – Dry Wanton Mee: Hoa Nam Building, 27 Foch Road
Have you ever been to any of Andre Chiang’s restaurants? What was your experience like? Tell us below!
Featured Image Source: Open Innovation Network