Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Andre Chiang: The Future after Restaurant Andre

This was a difficult post for me to write. Last week on the 14th of February 2018, we saw the last day of service of Restaurant Andre in Singapore. Andre Chiang and his wife Pam held a cosy family-style meal for a small group of media. My heart broke as I watched Pam sob uncontrollably on a friend's shoulder. This was not an easy decision for them on many fronts.

We huddled and watched a breathtakingly poignant movie (see above) on why he is leaving and what he wants to delve into next. It's an homage to the perfection he seeks and that the team has achieved; there are gorgeous scenes of Taiwan, his homeland; and how the end is a beginning. He's going back to his roots. When people ask him where he's from and what's over there, he's often at a loss for words. So he's going to explore and discover, share and educate.

Restaurant Andre last day family meal

We are undoubtedly sad at losing what many consider the best or most groundbreaking restaurant in Singapore. Andre is a culinary artist whose mastery of flavours has put us on the world map of fine-dining. But there's also lots more to look forward to. Asia on the whole will certainly benefit. In the media Q&A, Andre gave us some insight into the next 5-10 years.

He's spot on about food education in Asia. Those who want to be professional chefs usually have to seek formal training at culinary schools in the West. What about learning our own history and cuisines first?

Meanwhile, Andre will still have a presence in Singapore. While he will be spending half his time at RAW in Taipei, he will also focus on managing the seven (soon to be 10) concepts under his restaurant group. In Singapore, he has Bincho, Burnt Ends, Meatsmith and Restaurant Andre, which will be redeveloped into a new and never-before-seen fine-dining concept by end of the year. He also has one restaurant each in Paris, Taipei and Chengdu. Three more are coming up in Asia...to be revealed in due time.

Restaurant Andre last day family meal

How is he going to attain perfection while spreading himself over so many projects? His answer has piercing minimalist clarity. "What I does for each project is not to add more things to the cuisine, but to take out what is unnecessary. Just go straight to the DNA. That's really what I do."

"It's just like painters," he had said earlier. "It doesn't matter what you paint, as long as you understand colour. Ingredients are my colours. Doesn't matter if it's French or Chinese. I understand the chemicals between ingredients and formulas of taste."

"I like challenges; I like doing different things. I want to try completely different categories I've never tried before. Maybe beverages or pop-ups," he says. He doesn't mean bars or alcohol. They had developed 16 different fermented juices at Restaurant Andre. "Why not fermented juices? Why not tea? I think we can apply something from a chef's perspective. It could be cool."

As for RAW, which he has asked to be excluded from Michelin Guide consideration, he says it's a unique platform to showcase Taiwan's best.

"I have nothing more to prove. I want to keep it simple. I want people to just enjoy it. People say how can you open such a restaurant with such quality and setting and only sell US$60-70 a night for everything? It's not about how much money you make; it's a gift."

Chef @andrechiang_sg’s Taiwan beef noodles are mindblowingly phenomenal. If I have to go to Taipei to eat this again, I will! . . . . #andrechiang #restaurantandre #taiwanese #beefnoodles . . . . . #sgfood #sgfoodporn #igfood #sglife #exploresingapore #wh
Meanwhile, I am hoping his joke about doing pop-up street food stalls, "maybe selling beef noodles!" will actually come true. Seriously, his beef noodles are exactly my fantasy of how they should actually taste! All those "famous" places in Taiwan no matter how good, were always just short of wow. This version blows everything out of the water.

Perhaps with this new beginning, back in his homeland, Andre is finally completing his circle.

“What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.”
T. S. Elliot


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