Being a minority and unfamiliar face in the predominantly Western world of fine dining isn’t easy, and Andre Chiang, owner and chef of Singapore’s Restaurant Andre and Taipei’s Raw, has become a household name in recent years. His cuisine has been widely praised, and restaurants highly acclaimed. Fast forward to five years after his debut in Singapore, and he has published Octaphilosophy, his first book with Phaidon where he shares his eight-layer analysis of his cuisine. During a whirlwind book tour and a guest chef stint at Amber last month, the celebrated Taiwanese chef had much to share about his beginnings and what it takes to make it to the top.
Cooking is equal parts technical and emotional, even though you don’t see the latter often. This is what got me into the culinary world.
Success stories don’t always need to be sad stories. A lot of people want to say how much they sacrifice and suffer to become who they are, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I work hard, and you can be anything if you work hard. Having talent in something just means you have a lot of practice to do that one thing.
Work with depths (basics), spend time in doing things, and working hard are three things you must equip yourself with to sustain a career in the culinary work. There is no short cut.
After my 30th birthday I had the idea for Restaurant Andre. I wanted to start somewhere that I don’t feel the culture shock, and Singapore is the ideal place for it 10 years ago.
Raw is my gift to Taiwan and it highlights the people, cuisine, and flavours that Taiwan has to offer.
At Raw we work on the 24 season concept of Chinese culture, it’s more precise and more accurately reflects on seasonality. It also tells us what we eat and how we eat based on what is available to us.
Octaphilosophy is a multi-layered analysis of my cuisine – where different elements are considered by way of availability in creating each dish we serve at Restaurant Andre.
As a chef, I feel like I’m directing a movie, giving my audience (guests) a scene where they can dictate their own experience, interpret it based on their own purpose and agenda.
When I open a restaurant I try to create a concept that fits the city, not cut and paste. When I feel I know the city well enough, I will open here in Hong Kong.