A Work Week With Alain Devahive - Chef and co-founder of Olivia Restaurant & Lounge
What does it take to create one of the most exciting and vibrant new restaurants in Singapore? We talk to Alain Devahive, Chef and co-founder of Olivia Restaurant & Lounge, Singapore's newest Catalan restaurants, to find out.
I begin every day with a 12 kilometer run around Singapore. Having worked with food for so many years, I find it important to take out the time to stay active and ensure my chef coat fits!After my run, I make my way to Olivia Restaurant & Lounge fairly early. As the restaurant is closed to guests on Monday, it is always one of our busiest days. My partner, and co-founder Miquel Sabrià (Olivia’s Chief Operating Officer or COO) and I schedule several meetings to co-ordinate logistics and resolve any issues from the week before – these include finances, staff training, repairs. We spend the majority of our Monday mornings setting the tone for the week ahead at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge. During the afternoon, we tend to plan for the future and discuss new concepts and projects.
Creativity takes centre stage on Tuesdays. Before we open Olivia Restaurant & Lounge’s doors to guests at 11:30am, I prepare the kitchen and my team for the day’s service. In addition to preparing for the lunchtime rush, I meet with my creative team for a brainstorm session and discuss products and new dishes that are Barcelona-inspired, bringing the Mediterranean soul to Singapore’s historic Chinatown. As part of this development process, we compare extensive notes on each item to decide which dishes will make it to our menu and which dishes we want to continue developing. At Olivia Restaurant & Lounge we have a focus on Spanish wine, and also featuring other international favourites. Miquel and I sit down with the team to discuss pairings to ensure our diners receive the best experience. After dinner service on Tuesdays, I like to check in with friends and family back in Spain.
After my morning run, I head home to enjoy a cup of coffee and a flick through the papers before heading to Olivia Restaurant & Lounge. On Wednesday’s I like to reflect and take stock of how Olivia Restaurant & Lounge is being received by our diners. Since opening earlier this year, we have become one of Singapore’s sell out restaurants, with renowned dishes such as our famous creamy cheesecake, and together with my team of chefs we curate hearty and innovative Catalan cuisine in an elevated home-style. On Wednesday afternoons, between lunch and dinner service, we catch up on all marketing and PR requests. Miquel and I discuss campaigns, our in-house social media strategy, go through press coverage, and any interview requests. On Wednesday afternoons, we meet with various suppliers to ensure that Olivia Restaurant & Lounge is fully stocked for the next week.
Thursday is a day for internal meetings. I sit down with each member of our staff to check in with them and see how they are, and go through individual KPIs and address any HR issues from the past week. Named after my daughter, Olivia Restaurant & Lounge exudes warmth. We strive to create a ‘homely’ style, not only because of our home-style Catalan cuisine, but also because of our incredible team of staff that ensure our guests have a wonderful experience at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge. We all enjoy a catch up between servings and sit down to go through any feedback, polish glasses and re-assemble the restaurant for the dinner sitting.
On Friday’s I focus on all aspects of Olivia Restaurant & Lounge before the busy weekend. After my run, Miquel and I have video conferences with the restaurant partners that are based in Barcelona. These weekly meetings are a great way to for me to share all that has been happening at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge. Together with our partners, we review everything big and small that is essential to our business, and discuss new projects, latest news, and feedback at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge. After our meetings, I prepare for our Friday and Saturday crowds –I like to ensure everything is in planned ahead for these days. Our guests tend to stay later towards the end of the week and I always like to meet our diners, discuss the dishes they’ve tried and hear about their experience.