André Chiang – Chef extraordinaire, king of “Octaphilosophy ” and master of cool
Ahead of the launch of Speciality & Fine Food Asia and RPB Asia, I had the privilege of meeting André Chiang. Chef extraordinaire, king of “Octaphilosophy ” and master of cool.
Born in Taiwan, his culinary career started at the age of 15 when he moved to the home of classic cuisine – France. Here he worked under legendary chefs including Pascal Barbot, Pierre Gagnaire, Joël Robuchon and Michel Troisgros as well as becoming Head Chef of the three Michelin star restaurant Le Jardin des Sens.
Returning to Asia at the age of 30, his career has gone from strength to strength. Pulling upon his many influences, he now has 6 restaurants and is Chef and Owner of one of Singapore’s Best; Restaurant André, #2 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017, #14 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017, and very recently held onto his two stars ranking in the second edition of the Michelin Guide Singapore – this man is clearly doing something (well actually, lots of things!) right.
One thing that really struck me about Chef André is his aura – so calm, so Zen-like. I feel it reflects in his career views, as he claims he ‘never thought [he’d] have 6 restaurants within 6 years’ and that the way he operates is for things to happen ‘organically and naturally’. But, however relaxed he may appear, he clearly has sharp business acumen. I believe his ‘chilled mind’ simply enables him to make even more of his vast culinary abilities and incredible creative skills (he’s also an artist).
When asking how he continues to develop new and equally, if not more, successful restaurants, he said the key is to understand your market and only do something that is needed. Never copy and paste. So if you have a great restaurant in Singapore, in no way does that mean that London needs or should have this same restaurant. This notion goes from the idea of the restaurant right through to the team – Chef André never dilutes his team. He builds a team up from scratch, getting the best people to do the job rather than moving people from an already successful restaurant to a new one.
Each restaurant has a clear identity. When opening up a new restaurant Chef André always puts a clear brand structure and vision in place. His handpicked team then take the reins. He never micro manages but for Restaurant André he does work there every day. True dedication.
Chef André has released a gorgeous book (another string to his bow), that is a definite must-read for a marketer / foodie / artist like myself! The photography is divine, the paper the most delicious texture and of course, the recipes are immaculate. Based around his idea of ‘Octaphilosophy’ which takes into account Chiang’s eight elements of gastronomy: Salt, Texture, Memory, Pure, Terroir, South, Artisan And Unique, the book explores 365 days in Restaurant André. Personally, I think it’s a must-have for anyone in the industry… in fact, it’s simply a must-have.
Unbelievably for me, reading the stunning book was the beginning of my gastronomical journey as I was lucky enough to enjoy lunch at Restaurant André (yes… I know!) I can tell you, it beat all expectations. With magical combinations, plated up immaculately – even the harshest citric would have been delighted with the experience. For this sitting, Chiang joined forces with brilliant Australian Chef Dan Hunter – in something I believe they call in Singapore “Four hands” (two Chefs / four hands, get it?) The collaboration was a stunning combination of fresh, deep and fruity flavours. Service was charming – the perfect balance between attentiveness while also allowing guests to sit back and enjoy the experience. My only regret is that I found out only after visiting Restaurant André that Chef André has some of his artwork showcased throughout the restaurant – but never mind… it’s the perfect excuse for me to pay another visit. Next time… for dinner.
Thank you Chef André!
By Georgina Preston – Portfolio Marketing manager