5 things to know about chef Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre

Chef Andre Chiang said he will return to Taiwan after the closure of Restaurant Andre, and pass on his knowledge to the next generation of young chefs in Taiwan and China.
Chef Andre Chiang said he will return to Taiwan after the closure of Restaurant Andre, and pass on his knowledge to the next generation of young chefs in Taiwan and China. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Taiwan-born chef Andre Chiang has decided to close his two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Andre in Bukit Pasoh Road on Feb 14.

The 41-year-old said he intends to "return" his Michelin stars and has requested not to be included in next year's Michelin Guide Singapore.

In an e-mail sent to the press, he said this is the "best moment" of his life, where he has spent 30 years in the culinary scene.

He said he will return to Taiwan after the closure, and pass on his knowledge to the next generation of young chefs in Taiwan and China.

Restaurant Andre is currently ranked No. 2 on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list, while Raw is No. 24. On the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, Restaurant Andre is No. 14, and is the only restaurant from Singapore to make the top 50.

Here are some things to know about Chiang.

1. He came to Singapore in 2008

By the time Chiang arrived in Singapore in 2008, he had worked for renowned chefs Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, Joel Robuchon, Pierre Gagnaire, Michel Troisgros, Alain Ducasse and Pascal Barbot.

He took charge of Jaan at Swissotel The Stamford, and in no time, diners were hungry for his elegant modern French cuisine. The restaurant was then renamed Jaan Par Andre in his honour.

It debuted at No. 39 on the San Pellegrino list of the World's 50 Best restaurants in 2010.

2. His mother said he had no talent for Chinese food

At 13, Chiang left school to join his mother in Yamanashi prefecture near Tokyo, where she worked in a factory, packing eggs into cartons.

She helped out at a friend's eatery after her day job, and took over the business when her friend got married.

Chiang worked 10-hour days alongside her, and his tasks included shopping for produce and doing prep work.

After two years, he returned to Taipei.

"My mother said I did not have the talent for Chinese food. She cooks good Chinese food but I kind of wanted to twist it," he said in a 2010 interview with The Straits Times (ST).

3. He served in the Taiwan military for 35 days

Before he worked for the Pourcel brothers, he had to serve a two-year stint in the military service.

But a body-building injury to his lung meant he served only 35 days.

Then, in 1998, he headed to Montpellier in the south of France, where he worked for the Pourcels at their three-Michelin-starred Le Jardin Des Sens.

4. The Pourcels gave him opportunities in the kitchen

Chiang worked hard during his time in Montpellier. "I want to make sure I can deliver 100 per cent. If I feel I am not that good, I will come earlier, prepare earlier. It felt good to show the Pourcels that I was committed," he told ST in 2010.

In return, the Pourcel brothers treated him "like he was French" and tested to see how far he could go, said Chiang.

"Adjusting the sauce is a very big responsibility in kitchens and only Chef Laurent would do it. We had 35 cooks but he would say, 'Andre, you adjust the sauce'."

5. He can speak French

As a result of his time in France, Chiang had to pick up the language quickly. He is now fluent in French.

"I'm not the kind of person who is afraid to talk," he told ST. "If I know three French words, I would use them. I catch languages pretty fast."