What’s next for Andre Chiang?
Will the famed chef really return to Singapore and will it be to the fanfare he remembers?
When Andre Chiang announced late last year that he would be shutting the doors of his eponymous restaurant, Restaurant Andre, in early 2018, the news left his legion of loyal fans stunned.
With reservations still at a steady high and having won two Michelin stars throughout his career (which, by the way, he gave back in 2017) it left many followers of the Asia dining scene baffled with his choice. After he made his announcement, more than 7,000 people flocked to the website to try and secure the coveted final dining slots.
So, with the Singapore public firmly behind him and the dining world abuzz with speculation that he could be on course for a third Michelin star, why has Chiang decided to make this ground-breaking decision and what impact will it have on the Singapore dining scene?
Opening their doors in 2010, Restaurant Andre soon garnered a cult following thanks to Chiang’s ‘Octo-philosophy’, where his dishes comprise of eight elements. Honing his craft first in his adopted hometown of Tokyo, he soon moved to France to gain a better understanding of fine French food. It was in France where he developed his unique personal style of cooking at the three Michelin starred restaurant, Le Jardin des Sens. Moving back to Singapore, he opened Restaurant Andre in Bukit Pasoh, with a focus on daily menus to reflect the freshest available produce.
As the diners soon poured through the doors, so did the awards, winning Rising Chef of the Year at the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence in 2009, Top 10 Restaurants in Asia in Restaurant Magazine and of course, two Michelin stars. Soon Restaurant Andre had firmly secured itself as the number one fine dining restaurant and as the place to see and be seen at.
So why did Chiang decide to close his doors so suddenly? In his swansong letter, he said his decision was based on his desire to get back to Taiwan (where he was born) and learn a new method of Asian cooking. “I want to spend more time learning about Taiwanese Culture and ingredients. I haven’t been to the South of Taiwan before and the islands around it.” He said. Preempting his fans shock and questions why he had made the decision, he clarified: “You might ask, why now? Because this is the best moment of my life. I walked into the restaurant, into the kitchen, I see everyone, everything in order, polished, flawless, I have never seen any restaurant like this. This is the perfect team that I will not see anywhere else again, and we have achieved everything we want to achieve.”
While his statement read that he felt his time with the restaurant had reached its natural conclusion, the crueler sceptics pointed out that his time for departure may have had something to do with him missing out on a third Michelin star.
But while many dining fans scratched their heads at the decision and wandered where to spend their evenings from now on, it seemed that time, after all, is a great healer, with Chiang releasing another letter on Valentine’s Day 2018 in which he stated that he would in fact, be open for business to some degree, soon. "Singapore, this is not goodbye, for I am not leaving. A new beginning is set to open at the original location of Restaurant Andre that will see a brand new and exciting transformation," he wrote.
But while we wait to see exactly what he has up his sleeve, where do fine dining fans go for their weekly treat? Well, Jaan, formerly run by Chiang, must be rubbing their hands with glee, as one of the other top rated fine dining restaurants in Singapore, the departure must come as a welcome competitive relief. As the other top rated French restaurant in Singapore, Odette will no doubt be wiping their brow in celebration.
With Singapore’s dining scene moving at such a rapid pace, how will the departure of Restaurant Andre affect this ever-evolving world? Well, that remains fully to be seen but with the departure of one of the countries most established fine French restaurants, we can imagine someone like the Unlisted Collection rushing in to fill the void Restaurant Andre has left. One thing is for sure, with this scene being one of Singapore’s fastest moving, Chiang and his team will have an interesting task on their hands when they return from their Singapore hiatus.