The executive chef of the newly-opened Sofitel Singapore City Centre shows us the
inner culinary workings of the hotel.
When we arrive at Sofitel Singapore City Centre, the brand’s Singaporean flagship hotel which opened in early October this year, Jean-Charles Dubois is manning the live cooking stations at the hotel’s breakfast. It’s a humbling first impression, seeing the executive chef of an entire hotel so close to the ground, personally frying and serving guests’ omelettes. Throughout the rest of the day, as we move about the hotel, Dubois greets everyone cheerfully with a strong familiarity. It’s clear that he’s well liked—an older female staff laughingly tells us in Mandarin that the “sifu is creating something new” when he’s preparing a barramundi dish; walking into a lift, he wordlessly fistbumps another member of staff.
Born into a family of chefs in the city of Angers in Loire Valley, France, Dubois grew up surrounded by food, with his formative years spent in the kitchen. “I’ve been cooking ever since I was four. My grandfather, father and uncle are all chefs, and I’ve always wanted to be a chef myself,” he shares. Dubois’ illustrious cooking career has spanned several renowned restaurants in Paris, including the now-defunct Jacques Cagna and three Michelinstarred L’Espadon. Since moving to Singapore in 2004, he’s helmed many iconic spots like Raffles Grill at the Raffles Hotel Singapore, Balzac Brasserie, and his solo venture, The French Kitchen, although the latter two are now defunct.
Now, he’s running the show at Sofitel Singapore City Centre’s only restaurant, Racines. French for ‘roots’, the 136-seater all-day dining restaurant serves French and Chinese dishes side-by-side, with two separate kitchen brigades in charge of each cuisine—with the Western side cooking on custom-built Marrone stoves, and the