Taiwan-born chef Andre Chiang jolted the foodie world earlier this week by announcing that he will be closing Restaurant Andre after eight years of being in the business. The restaurant is at the apex of its popularity — some say it hasn't even reached its full potential yet. It won two stars in the inaugural edition of Singapore’s Michelin guide in 2016 and retained them in this year’s edition, which was published in June. It is also #2 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list.
There were murmurings among industry insiders about the notoriously perfectionist chef’s discontent with getting anything less than three stars. “I don’t know how to be better, but we’ll keep doing what we can do,” he had said to us after the inaugural awards ceremony back in 2016. He denies the rumours, though. “My decision to close Restaurant Andre is not related to any awards. I do not have to prove anything to anyone,” he told CNN.
Still, in an official statement via email, he devotes an entire paragraph to the topic of the awards: “I’m a perfectionist and for the past 30 years of my career, I’ve been looking for that unrealistic “moment of perfection”: Three Michelin stars, World’s Top 50 restaurant... until now I realised, at this moment — it is perfect as it is.”
He adds, “The moment I perfect a dish, is the moment I let go from my menu. I started to cook since I was 13, and this month will be the 30th year of my culinary journey. I want to go back to where I started, I want to go back to cooking, have a balanced life and cook happily.”
So, in a move that echoes other celebrated chefs before him, most recently the lauded French chef Sébastien Bras, son of Michel Bras, who announced he wanted to “give back” the three Michelin stars he and his father have maintained for almost two decades at their restaurant Le Suquet à Laguiole, Andre is also, er, returning his two Michelin stars.
He pens: “I have decided to re-prioritise my professional life from early next year, and as such, I wish to kindly return my Michelin stars and also request to not be included in the 2018 edition of the Michelin Guide Singapore. Following Michelin Guide’s expansion in Asia, I understand that Michelin will soon launch new editions in Bangkok and Taiwan (where my other restaurant RAW is located in Taipei). As my hope is that RAW will be the pure place where I can focus on educating, developing others, and cooking after my retirement from Restaurant Andre, I also request that RAW not be included in the Michelin Guide Taiwan (or Taipei).”
If you plan to make a final trip to his haute French eatery, bad news: the eight-course farewell Octaphilosophy menu now costs a whopping $800 per person, with wine pairing, up from about $200 for a five-course lunch and $350 for an eight-course dinner sans drinks in the past. But the Bukit Pasoh restaurant’s last day of service is on 14 February, 2018, so maybe, just maybe, there’s still time to save up.
The chef says that after its closure, he will be involved in “a few projects” and “returning to where I was born forty years ago... passing on everything I have to the next generation in Taiwan and China is my duty, and providing young chefs [with] a better education and culinary culture is an urgent priority for me. Although Restaurant Andre’s legacy will soon become a fond memory to the world’s gourmets, I have no regrets, as we have achieved all that we have wanted to for Singapore and for Asia. Now, it is time for me to go home.”
The quaint shophouse in which Restaurant Andre is currently housed will reportedly be converted into a more casual eatery, which the chef will have a share in, along with stakes in other restaurants like the successful Burnt Ends, Meat Smith and Bincho. Goodbye Andre the chef, hello Andre the businessman?
Restaurant Andre is at 41 Bukit Pasoh Rd, S089855. Tel: 6534-8880.