Whether modern or classic is not important. I think about how I can bring out the best of nature’s beauty.
Your own restaurant, “Andre”, opened in 2010, and collected some attention for serving fermented juice four years ago. Fermentation is now very trendy but please tell me why you started it.
My restaurant is French but I thought of serving something that only we can serve in Singapore. It is unique, which you cannot eat in France.
When I thought of that, in Singapore, we depend on imported foodstuffs, but I noticed it is hot and humid throughout the year is a unique point. And I thought of fermentation to utilize that.
And fermentation is originally a technique of Asia. They have a culture of fermentation in China, and miso and soy sauce in Japan are, too. These techniques were discovered but failed to evolve further.
In the world, limited materials are used for fermented drinks like grapes and some grains.
But in the future, fermented ginseng drinks might be popular and people will start to pay attention to it, just like they do for grapes and wine. I want to evolve fermentation culture that we are familiar with to a new form.
The way of thinking about fermented juice and your cooking style seems to be very innovating, but what do you think about classic techniques?
When I cook, I do not really focus on whether it is French technique, modern, or classic,
from modern liquid nitrogen to classic Binchotan charcoal. What is important is not about which country it is from, modern, or classic, but whether it is appropriate or not.
There is no need to put it into a particular style.
Like Michelangelo said, it is like creating a goddess from marble?
Yes. How can I maximise the beauty of nature? Even if the shape is square, it does not mean we have to cut it into squares. We do not need to copy.
Cooking is to emphasize the appeal of each ingredient in different conditions everyday.
Future of culinary, sharing Octaphilosophy. Not sticking to the past but go forward
Now what do you think the world of culinary will be in the future?
Ingredients are integrating rapidly and are available everywhere.
So I think cooking with a creative mind, free of national identities will be important.
Conversely, due to the development of the information network, copying of dishes has become very easy. Isn’t it hard to keep originality?
Last year, I published a book about my own cooking philosophy, called Octaphilosophy, but I was told by Zor Tan, who I have worked with for 9 years, “Why do you put all the recipes that you developed in the book after putting in so much effort?”. But I do not mind being copied, because they are a thing of the past.
If I kept older recipes without publishing, perhaps I might stick to those.
However, I think to continue moving forward. So I do not stick to the things in the past.
It is because it is needed necessary to keep moving forward.