Saturday, October 9, 2010
Joël Robuchon in Singapore, Will Launch 3 Concepts at RWS early 2011
I met Joël Robuchon today. I was this close. Front row seat!
Chef of the Century (a title given by Gault Millau) Mr Robuchon, 65, needs little introduction as the world's most decorated chef with 26 Michelin stars in the 2010 Michelin Guide. Here's an in-depth interview at eGullet which gives a glimpse into how he works.
He will be bringing to Singapore not one but three three concepts - the fine-dining Joël Robuchon Restaurant, the less formal L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and The Pastry Shop and Lounge. The first two will be launched at Hotel Michael, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) as early as mid-Feb 2011 (if everything goes as scheduled).
His quote from the press release elaborates on the difference between the restaurants. "Joël Robuchon Restaurant will be a fine dining restaurant with the quality of service of a three Michelin-star dining establishement as it exists in Tokyo, Las Vegas and Paris, while the L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon is a different innovative concept. It features a 'convivial' atmosphere, where I wanted to stage the chefs in a central kitchen in full view of the guest, without any manager. The guest, seated at the counter, can see his product being transformed, everything is transparent, and he can even follow the cooking of his meat on the teppanyaki or on the spit of the rotisserie."
RWS is clearly thrilled to have him open at their premises. Mr Roger Lienhard, Senior Vice-President of F&B and Rooms at RWS (seated right in photo), is a longtime friend (and a former chef himself) as well. He helped translate many statements and anecdotes from Robuchon who spoke in French.
Will the menus will be the same? Well, the skills and techniques that are the tradition of Robuchon will be the same. Food and flavours most certainly, but perhaps not all ingredients. They will adapt according to ingredients available locally. And yes, the famous pommes purée will be on the menu.
Robuchon emphasized his focus on using healthy-cooking techniques and choosing ingredients with proven health benefits. He spoke of the influence of Japanese cuisine and the importance of produce freshness. He is also 200% against molecular gastronomy, he jokes.
He has always loved the sushi bar concept where you not only get to interact with the chef but also see your food being prepared and served to you as-is. He has recently been very impressed with culinary development in Spain, which he believes has surpassed many other countries in Europe. The L'Atelier concept incorporates both aspects of the Japanese and Spanish experience that he likes.
How does he maintain consistent quality in his 21 restaurants spread over 10 countries? Robuchon has six associates, all experts in their field and loyal staff who have been with him for 15-20 years, each of them totally exhibiting what they term as "Robuchon DNA" - they have totally immersed themselves in the Robuchon restaurant culture, the style of French haute cuisine and world class service. They travel, sometimes accompanied by him, to the various restaurants to coach and maintain the level of quality expected of the name.
Robuchon will himself be coming to Singapore at least once a quarter as he spends a lot more time in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau and Japan.
To replicate the same dining experience here, Robuchon will bring nine of his best staff from around the world to Singapore.
Executive Chef Tomonori Danzaki (left) who has been with him for 16 years, and spent the last five years at the Joël Robuchon Restaurant in MGM Grand, Las Vegas - which is solidly booked every single night. He's brought with him to Singapore his wife and two young children.
Diego Requena (right) was sommelier and assistant general manager at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas. He had also served at the L'Atelier in Paris. He will also lend his expertise in the Singapore operations.
Famous French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon who designed the first Atelier in Paris will be designing the L'Atelier in Resorts World. A rosewood counter enveloping the show kitchen, which will this time be in black and polished steel, with the teppanyaki section in red for a dramatic look. The Joël Robuchon Restaurant will have a spacious main dining room in red, prune, black and celadon green. It opens up to a garden terrace for harmonious atmosphere.
I think we are all pretty excited about the developments, and look forward to the restaurants opening next year. Thanks to RWS and Weber Shandwick for the opportunity to meet the culinary legend in person!
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