" When [the concept] is so personal, there is engagement, because there's a certain level of quality that I am responsibl­e for and put my guarantee on: guest come here to experience this quality."

With Claudine, Royer is putting his most personal self at the forefront. It’s an irresistib­ly romantic notion for any chef, but Royer is also a business owner, and understand­s all too well the importance of having a viable business concept and having the right team to help him realise his vision. After all, he says, “It’s the addition of great people that makes a place special”.

And what an eclectic collection of background­s he has got running the show. Heading his kitchen are long-time friend Julien Mercier, a French national who’s spent the last 15 years working in Brazil and chef de cuisine Loic Portalier, his sous chef at Louise. Singaporea­n Glynn Tay, who had previously worked at Marina Bay Sands for more than a decade is Claudine’s general manager and oversees the care of guests experience­s together with restaurant manager and hospitalit­y veteran Antoine Capelli, who hails from Switzerlan­d. Local pastry chef Jeanette Ow, rounding up the gang, brings a light touch to classic French desserts.

Assembling his A-team, Royer likens it to putting together a football squad — “you don’t know whether you’ll win or lose, but so long you believe in the same vision and goal, it’s the best direction to move in”. His team, as such, is made up of people who embody the same values he’s been brought up with: Humility, integrity, and passion.

Finding the right staff has not been the easiest task, but he is pleased to see that interest in working in the industry is growing steadily. He cites the mysterious CFO — who, who knows, might just be working at one of Royer’s restaurant­s someday soon — as proof of the ethereal quality of working in the kitchen, of being able to feed people and impact their psyches.

“With the pandemic, many are starting to realise how food is a universal language that brings people together,” he says.

“It’s a hard job, of course, but knowing you can make someone’s life a bit better by helping them forget their worries, even for a while through food — that is magical.”

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