SEVEN DISHES: JUSTIN QUEK

SALT Magazine - - Contents - TEXT AMY VAN PHO­TOS CHOO HAO XIN ART DI­REC­TION & STYLING BEN­JAMIN SOH

The vet­eran chef ex­presses a uniquely Sin­ga­porean iden­tity through the Fran­coAsian cre­ations at his new restau­rants, JUSTIN and Chi­nois­erie.

Sin­ga­pore’s most fa­mous celebrity chef, Justin Quek,

re­turns to Ma­rina Bay Sands to un­veil two new restau­rants: Chi­nois­erie and JUSTIN, which show­case his

mas­tery for fine Chi­nese and French cuisines.

Justin Quek, one of Sin­ga­pore’s top chefs, is known for his dex­ter­ity in French fine din­ing and also his deep un­der­stand­ing of Asian cuisines. Quek, who is Teochew, used to help out at his fam­ily’s fruit stall at Queen’s Street in his younger days. His de­sire to see the world led him to ap­ply for a job as a mer­chant ship’s ste­wart, which al­lowed him to sail around the globe. From there, he found his call­ing in the kitchens, and de­cided to pur­sue his culi­nary ca­reer. He even­tu­ally used his sav­ings to spend a year train­ing in the finest three-star restau­rants in France and London.

After his Euro­pean stint, Quek re­turned to Sin­ga­pore to work as per­sonal chef for the French am­bas­sador in 1992. He also cooked for Sin­ga­pore’s found­ing prime min­is­ter Lee Kuan Yew’s birth­day din­ners ev­ery year for more than a decade.

Quek made a name for him­self at the ven­er­a­ble French fine­din­ing Les Amis in the late 1990s un­til 2004. He then left Sin­ga­pore to ex­plore the re­gional mar­ket. Over six years, he op­er­ated as chefowner of nu­mer­ous fine din­ing restau­rants in Tai­wan and Shang­hai. In Hong Kong, he served as a con­sul­tant to mul­ti­ple restau­rants. In 2010, when Ma­rina Bay Sands (MBS) was launched, Quek re­turned to Sin­ga­pore to run Sky on 57, which has since shut­tered.

It’s a dream for the chef to launch his two new con­cepts at MBS: the fine din­ing Chi­nois­erie is his “play­ground” (for now it is only avail­able for spe­cial book­ings). JUSTIN is the more ca­sual out­let by the wa­ter­front, which show­cases the dif­fer­ent lo­cal flavours our city has to of­fer. At lunch, din­ers can tuck into quick one-dish meals. In the evenings, zi char favourites like chilli crab and fish head curry are served.

Quek says that he’s come full cir­cle, re­turn­ing to the fine din­ing scene where he first made his mark. Yet, he’s trav­elled, tasted and ex­pe­ri­enced so much more to date. This new dis­tinctly Sin­ga­porean ven­ture is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of who he is.

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