Andre Chiang has all the makings to be a loud-mouthed, brash, arrogant chef – talent, good looks, his own Michelin-starred restaurant and celebrity status.
Despite the accolades that he garnered almost as soon as he started his culinary journey, there’s a gentle and delicate demeanour about him – which speaks through his cuisine.
He’s arguably the most humble and quietest of the lot. Perhaps it’s because he’s constantly churning & creating – avoiding distractions. Maybe credit has to be given to his artistic upbringing.
The youngest of three grew up in a household of creatives and playtime barely included any conventional toys. Instead, the siblings got the best one can get their hands on as a child – canvases, paint and imagination.
Unlike many growing up, Chef Andre knew his direction in life. At the tender age of 13, he decided that gastronomy was going to be his life’s journey.
From the gorgeous space that is Restaurant ANDRE, he delves into this week’s Sunday Sessions much like he does with his food – full of flavour, colour and adventure.
I was born into a creative family, my father a calligrapher, my mother a chef, my brother an actor, and sister a clothing designer. My art, my craft, and my process define me.
The brand is about my culinary journey and principle Octaphilosophy. It became apparent to me that while my cooking evolved over time; a few elements remain at the core of each of my creations. I researched how our capacity to taste is influenced by our memories and experiences acquired over time, which led me to develop Octaphilosophy – based on 8 characteristics: Unique, Texture, Memory, Pure, Terroir, Salt, South, and Artisan.
From my early days helping my mom in her Chinese kitchen in Japan, learning from her, I knew I wanted to further my culinary journey. I was just 13.
Two years later, I set off on my own and decided to go to France to seek out the celebrated masters of Nouvelle Cuisine.
It was in 1997 when I created a dish of warm foie gras jelly with black truffle coulis which went on the menu at Le Jardin de Sens. It has been my signature dish ever since.
After spending 16 years in France, I moved to Singapore and a couple of years later, in 2010, opened Restaurant ANDRE and soon placed in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, for 6 consecutive years.
Restaurant ANDRE was honoured to be awarded 2 Michelin Stars in 2016.
This year, we placed Number 14 in World’s 50 Best Restaurants, second place in Asia’s Best Restaurants and Best Restaurant in Singapore.
My inspiration is drawn from collective memories, personal experiences, and lifelong travels.
I worked under Jacques and Laurent Pourcel – the most influential chefs in my career – at Le Jardin de Sens, and also trained with other imminent chefs including Pierre Gagnaire, Joel Robuchon, Pascal Barbot, Michel Troisgros. From there, my obsessions with pushing the boundaries of culinary perfection, testing the limits and developing a distinctive culinary style, grew.
After working with the most revered chefs for many years, I spent time in Seychelles, Bangkok, and Shanghai, where I disconnected myself from everything I knew to find my own culinary style and invented the Octaphilosophy.
Surely. Moving to France at the age of 15 years old and not knowing a word of French, I was also the only Asian working in a Le Jardin de Sens, a 3 Michelin Star restaurant. It was an uncommon sight and unthinkable to see an Asian mastering the art of French nouvelle cuisine.
Most people saw me simply for what I am – a Taiwanese cook – and not many believed that I would ever be able to understand the process, the techniques, the intricacies of cooking French food, but I worked hard to prove myself. After 9 gruelling years of hard work, I became the first Taiwanese Chef de Cuisine at the restaurant.
I decided to return to my roots and was looking for a challenge, a place to build a culinary institution that I could put on the global map. When I arrived in Singapore years ago, there had not been an iconic restaurant doing what we do now.
To be able to operate a 2 Michelin Star French restaurant in Singapore run by a Taiwanese Chef, that is also known as the 14th Best Restaurant in the World, has been a dream come true. We are pushing the boundaries everyday and redefining the dining scene, and I want to continue to showcase the culinary talent and world-class cuisine we have to offer in Asia.
In Singapore, we’ve developed a unique way of working according to the produce we are able to receive. Locally, we may not have farms, or seasons, but what our brigade has is perspective and flexibility. We don’t perceive this as a disadvantage; instead we utilize what our producers have made available to us and let this inspire what we do.
Everyday we receive quality, seasonal produce from our artisanal producers from all over the world, and have the luxury to work with the best of many different seasons at once, allowing this to dictate our menu. Working with what we have, we’re also able to further our exploration into fermentation.
Singapore offers perfect conditions for fermentation of 23 – 30 degrees celsius and high humidity. This allows us to produce fermented jus designed to complement the dishes created, with no menu, only Octaphilosophy, for the 30 special guests that we welcome into our house everyday.
Restaurant ANDRE is in an intimate 1920s shop house along Bukit Pasoh Road, where Lee Kuan Yew first began his career. The vicinity is also part of a conservation area and used to be where earthenware pots and jars were made in the 19th Century. This location carries historical importance and legacy, which I wish to continue.
Restaurant ANDRE is known to be booked several months in advance, and is not open when Chef Andre is traveling. For reservations, click HERE.
Follow the chef’s culinary journey HERE.