A string of breath taking dishes, unrivaled philosophy, a strong eye for design – all have chef Andre Chiang positioned to be a culinary superstar. Lucky for us, we had the chance to sit down with chef Andre to discuss his process and influences for his Singapore establishment, Restaurant ANDRE.
I rely on first instincts when I see an ingredient.
What is Octaphilosophy™ and what inspired this concept?
Octaphilosophy™ is the thinking process behind my cuisine. It is based upon 8 principles or elements that are the different facets of the perfect gastronomic journey. Such elements are Salt, Texture, Unique, Memory, Artisan, South, Pure and Terroir. Each element plays a different role in the journey and all together make up the complete, perfect meal.
Your style of cooking is French nouvelle cuisine. Does your Taiwanese background have any influence in your cooking?
I guess I am more open minded to the different types of ingredients including Asian or European ingredients, different methods, savors, and odors. I am not restricted to using only French ingredients or techniques, but there’s no specific Taiwanese influence in my cuisine either.
One of your obsessions is exploring the depth of saltiness. You’ve been known to use real seawater from the Mediterranean (South of France) and Atlantic (Brittany) in your food. Is there any other out of the ordinary ingredients you often use?
We use a few such as watermelon skin, cornhusk, and charcoal ash.
What is your process for creating a new dish concept?
I rely on first instincts when I see an ingredient and that instinct leads to one of the elements from Octaphilosophy™, for example Salt or Texture. Then, from there, we will give it a different layer of flavor, depth, dimension and character.
Where do you find inspiration and how does that influence the way you plate?
From everywhere. I do read a lot of design, architecture and fashion magazines to feed my appetite for aesthetics. The sequence of flavor that I expect to create for the guests is the ultimate guideline to the plating step.
For the last two decades you’ve won dozens of prestigious awards and numerous mentions. What keeps your passion alive?
When I dedicate 18 hours a day to doing something that I love, pushing boundaries, and creating new experiences from insight and imagination. Eventually, when one more unique dish is born, this is what keeps my passion alive.
Who do you admire in and outside of the culinary space?
It would be Christian Puglisi of Relae, Copenhagen and Annie Leibovitz. They are both genuine pioneers that carry strong character and vision. I can see their vision through their work, which always impresses me a lot.
What do you predict the future of food is?
Sadly, I would say that food will become less tasty then it is today as the conditions for produce have been seriously threatened and we’ve been losing the craft of agriculture.
If the condition of produce is seriously threatened, what measures have or will you take to preserve your standard of quality in food?
As a matter of fact, we try to grow our own vegetables, especially original and forgotten plants in our farm Racines (french for roots) in the south of Taiwan.
What advice can you give someone aspiring to be a chef or restaurateur?
Consistency, endurance, and simplicity.