10 STAR CHEFS & RESTAU­RA­TEURS

Hav­ing watched them evolve and achieve suc­cess over the years, we find out what th­ese toques and busi­ness­men (and women) are up to now. By Eu­nice Lew

Epicure - - SPECIAL FEATURE -

1. An­dré Chi­ang An­dré Chi­ang needs no in­tro­duc­tion, hav­ing been a ma­jor fig­ure in Sin­ga­pore’s culinary scene since he first led JAAN par An­dré on 2008, be­fore helm­ing Restau­rant An­dré for eight years. At the Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2018 awards, shortly af­ter two Miche­lin-starred Restau­rant An­dré’s clo­sure on 14 Fe­bru­ary, Chi­ang was be­stowed the Life­time Achieve­ment Award. epi­cure paid our own trib­ute, fea­tur­ing him in the cover story of Fe­bru­ary 2018 is­sue, in which you can find five dishes that most ex­em­plify one of Chi­ang’s eight culinary prin­ci­ples, Mem­ory. Hav­ing re­turned to Tai­wan, Chi­ang is now in the process of build­ing his new home out­side Taipei county and shift­ing his head of­fice to Taipei as AC Global and AC De­sign – the for­mer over­sees his seven restau­rants (in­clud­ing Porte 12 in Paris and RAW in Taipei) and two new up­com­ing projects, while the lat­ter fo­cuses on pro­mot­ing his cre­ative tal­ents such as pot­tery and sculpt­ing. Chi­ang is also ded­i­cat­ing more time to giv­ing speeches, hold­ing work­shops and world con­fer­ences, as well as work­ing with Tai­wanese re­search vol­un­teers to col­lect data on Tai­wanese flavours and her­itage. 2. Cyn­thia Chua If any­one were to name a fe­male ti­tan of the F&B in­dus­try, Cyn­thia Chua, the founder of Spa Esprit Group, is it. She’s up there with fel­low en­trepreneur­s such as Wee Teng Wen and Loh Lik Peng. A strong sense of busi­ness acu­men was what won her epi­cure’s Ex­cel­lence Award dur­ing our fifth an­niver­sary bash, for her dar­ing and in­no­va­tive con­cepts such as Tip­pling Club and bochinche, which have in­jected a jolt of vi­brancy to the F&B scene. Her com­pany has grown to en­com­pass 16 brands and 100 out­lets world­wide. Chua most re­cently un­veiled The Butcher’s Wife, which of­fers hearty, gluten-free fare by chef Diego Jac­quet of bochinche. Next, she plans to re­vamp her restau­rants’ wine menus to com­pletely com­prise natural wines, set up a natural wine fes­ti­val, and ex­pand Spa Esprit Group’s foray into ur­ban farm­ing with a new con­cept com­plete with a rooftop farm.

3. Ja­son Tan

One of Sin­ga­pore’s home­grown tal­ents, Ja­son Tan cut his teeth at top French ta­bles Les Amis and Le Saint Julien Restau­rant, and rose to the po­si­tion of ex­ec­u­tive chef at Justin Quek’s Sky on 57 in just four years. Fly­ing the Sin­ga­pore flag high, he was crowned the Bo­cuse d’or Sin­ga­pore cham­pion in 2008 and went on to clinch the bronze tro­phy at the Bo­cuse d’or Asian Se­lec­tion at Pudong. Launch­ing Cor­ner House in 2014 was a mile­stone as he has since main­tained one Miche­lin star since 2016 and is No. 36 on Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2018 list. As a tes­ta­ment to his talent and cre­ativ­ity, epi­cure awarded him the Epi­cure Chef of the Year ac­co­lade in 2015. Tan whipped up stun­ning cre­ations for our April 2015 Art on a plate an­niver­sary is­sue. We couldn’t be prouder of this heart­land chef.

4. Loh Lik Peng

The pro­lific hote­lier and res­tau­ra­teur of Un­listed Col­lec­tion once pro­fessed that he’s not try­ing to build an em­pire, but no one will doubt that he’s al­ready achieved that. Loh Lik Peng cur­rently has six ho­tels and 25 restau­rants in five coun­tries un­der his well-notched belt, such as one Miche­lin-starred Cheek by Jowl and No. 12 on Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2017 list, Burnt Ends. Most re­cently, he added Black­wat­tle in Sin­ga­pore, A1 Can­teen in Syd­ney, and Trin­ity Lodge in Dublin to his sta­ble. Watch this space for more news.

5. Carlos Mon­to­b­bio Since earn­ing ac­claim for his Asian-in­spired tapas while at Fair­mont Sin­ga­pore’s Anti:dote bar, the Barcelona-born chef – who has worked at El Celler de Can Roca and Zuberoa – has been one of the in­dus­try’s golden boys. Head­hunted by Un­listed Col­lec­tion to take over Esquina af­ter An­drew Walsh’s de­par­ture in 2015, Carlos Mon­to­b­bio is as zeal­ous as ever. He plans to in­tro­duce a 14-course tast­ing menu that chron­i­cles the evo­lu­tion of Esquina’s cui­sine since its open­ing six years ago. Late last year, he also launched a monthly Tast­ing Room ini­tia­tive, which pro­vides din­ers the op­por­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate and of­fer feed­back on off-the-menu cre­ations, some of which make it onto Esquina’s main menu. 6. Wee Teng Wen Man­ag­ing part­ner Wee Teng Wen has come a long way since he started the com­pany in 2005, now with 14 brands un­der The Lo & Be­hold Group. But he’s not rest­ing on his lau­rels. Ear­lier this year, Wee un­veiled Straits Clan, an mem­bers’ club (which took over Un­listed Col­lec­tion’s New Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel premises) for Sin­ga­pore’s cre­ative folk to gather and share ideas; and Le Bon Funk, a natural wine bar. Soon to open is Esora, a kappo-style Ja­panese fine din­ing restau­rant. Mov­ing for­ward, Wee says, “I think we could def­i­nitely do with more cross-in­dus­try col­lab­o­ra­tive con­cepts. I re­ally be­lieve that our new-age mem­bers’ club, Straits Clan, will be a plat­form for lead­ers in their re­spec­tive fields to con­nect and nur­ture mean­ing­ful part­ner­ships that will evolve into truly ex­cit­ing con­cepts for Sin­ga­pore’s land­scape.”

7. Rishi Naleen­dra

We’ve had our eyes on Sri Lanka-born Rishi Naleen­dra since he moved here from Aus­tralia in 2015 to head Maca at the Tan­glin Post Of­fice. Im­press­ing din­ers with flavour-driven dishes, Un­listed Col­lec­tion quickly snapped him up when Maca an­nounced its clo­sure, task­ing him to re­vive the Sorrel restau­rant space on Boon Tat Street as his own project, Cheek by Jowl. Prov­ing Loh Lik Peng’s knack for talent, Cheek by Jowl earned one Miche­lin star in 2017 and Naleen­dra be­came the first Sri Lankan chef to at­tain Miche­lin sta­tus for his restau­rant. Hav­ing just com­pleted a two-week pop-up in Lon­don, fol­low­ing a slew of over­seas en­gage­ments, the sought-af­ter toque now in­tends to shift his fo­cus back to his restau­rant. There’s also the chance of ex­pand­ing over­seas in the fu­ture. “It all de­pends on how Cheek by Jowl per­forms in the next year,” Naleen­dra says.

8. Beppe de Vito

Res­tau­ra­teur-chef Beppe de Vito of the il­lido Group first set foot on Sin­ga­pore’s shores in 1995 as part of the open­ing team of Bice at Good­wood Park Ho­tel. Since then, he has opened Rossi Ris­torante (now shut­tered) and Garibaldi Ital­ian Restau­rant & Bar with then­busi­ness part­ner Roberto Galetti, be­fore un­veil­ing his first solo ven­ture, il­lido, in Sen­tosa. Now, the group com­prises seven con­cepts, the new­est of which is Room for More, a whisky lounge in Dempsey. “At the mo­ment, it’s all about push­ing the il­lido Group to the next level – we’re ask­ing our­selves how we can be bet­ter at what we’re cur­rently do­ing, what more can we do, and how we can make our ex­ist­ing or new con­cepts more ac­ces­si­ble and re­lat­able,” de Vito says. For ex­am­ple, Amò now of­fers piz­zas with low-gluten buck­wheat and ka­mut flours. At SONS, they achieved their long-term vi­sion of launch­ing a full range of Ital­ian gro­cer goods (such as home­made pas­tas and cured meats) on re­tail via Red­mart, to much suc­cess. He re­veals, "Come this Septem­ber, we’ll be open­ing a Greek con­cept, of which we are still work­ing out the de­tails.”

9. Julien Royer

The crown jewel of The Lo & Be­hold Group, two Miche­lin-starred Odette’s suc­cess can no doubt be at­tributed to chef-owner Julien Royer’s lead­er­ship. We’ve seen him come into his own when helm­ing JAAN – who can for­get his heir­loom beet­root vari­a­tion sig­na­ture dish? – then blaze a trail with Odette, reach­ing new heights each year, though the restau­rant has been open for just three years. Case in point: Odette de­buted at No. 9 on Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2017 list, and climbed to No. 5 in 2018, be­com­ing Sin­ga­pore’s best restau­rant on the list. Just last month, the restau­rant made its de­but on the World’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2018 list at No. 28 to stand along­side Nari­sawa, Alain Du­casse au Plaza Athénée, and D.O.M. Never one to let suc­cess get to his head, the hum­ble and af­fa­ble chef was be­hind our Jan­uary 2018 cover story, in which he cre­ated veg­etable-for­ward dishes in myr­iad hues.

10. Yew Eng Tong

We’ve worked with Yew Eng Tong sev­eral times over the years, and each time, we were struck by his steely de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed. In the past six years, Yew has par­tic­i­pated in the Bo­cuse d’or bi­en­nial com­pe­ti­tion thrice, each time rank­ing in the top two for the Asia leg. Yew also re­cently con­sulted for the Sri Lanka Bo­cuse d’or team for the Asia Pa­cific se­lec­tion. Hav­ing left Re­sorts World Sen­tosa, Yew moved to Hong Kong four months ago to join his ex-boss, chef Ed­ward Voon, at Le Pan as chef de cui­sine and Voon’s right-hand man; the two pre­vi­ously worked to­gether for seven years at Tower Club Sin­ga­pore, Dolce Vita and the nowde­funct Au­rum. While his goal now is to help Voon score Miche­lin stars, Yew won’t dis­miss the chance that he might re­turn to Sin­ga­pore and strike out on his own.

Le Bon Funk’s Veg­etable Cru­dités and Whipped Roe

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