Six of its seven outlets in New York may have closed down last week after opening to much fanfare, but Pie Face's executive chef Francois Galand is confident that the Australian chain's signature pies will do well in Singapore.
On the closures, Sydney-based French chef Galand, 47, says: "I believe the situation in New York was due to some management issues which I am not privy to. From our establishment in Australia over the past 10 years, it has nothing to do with our products or concept."
Pie Face - which has more than 80 outlets in three countries and sells up to 100,000 pies weekly in Australia - expanded into the United States in 2012 with a US$15-million (S$19-million) investment from an American casino tycoon.
The pie company will debut in Singapore by early next month. It will open its first outlet at 313@Somerset, followed by its 1,400 sq ft flagship cafe at Bugis Village.
Other pie shops in Singapore include The Gourmet Pie Company, Don - Your Personal Pie Club, halal-certified The Shepherd's Pie and Windowsill Pies, which specialises in dessert pies.
Pie Face's pies - complete with faces piped on top - have a shortcrust base and puff pastry top and these, says chef Galand, give its wares a winning edge over other pie shops.
Depending on the size of pies - mini or regular - prices start at $3.
Signature pie flavours include chicken and mushroom, chicken and peppercorn, and chunky steak. There is also a range of dessert pies which include pecan pie and apple crumble, as well as flavours such as lemon, chocolate, butterscotch and raspberry.
There are also plans to create exclusive pie flavours for Singapore. In the US, there was a Philly Cheesesteak pie with melted cheese.
But while the New York business has suffered, the chain is bullish about its entrance into Asia.
SundayLife! understands that at least 50 outlets will open in Singapore and Malaysia over the next five years with Malaysian company VL Development, which has business interests in property development, hotels and trading.
In Singapore, other outlets will include a range of takeaway kiosks and slightly bigger ones with limited seating.
Next year, the brand continues its rapid expansion into the Philippines, Japan and South Korea.
Normandy-born chef Galand is not only the man behind the recipes, but he is also the key person who sets up Pie Face kitchens overseas. He is in Singapore for the first time to facilitate the training of staff at the brand's central kitchen.
He is there to ensure a smooth transition with "clear procedures to follow" for Malaysian chef Lim Yong Seong, 46, who will head the kitchen operations here.
Chef Lim used to be with Malaysian doughnut chain Big Apple Donuts & Coffee.
Besides Pie Face, chef Galand also runs Dinky Di Pies, a patisserie brand he bought in 1994. It specialises in gourmet pies and whole cakes. The chain has five outlets and he does not rule out bringing it to Singapore too.
In 2007, he joined Pie Face. He is married to co-founder Betty Fong's sister Anna, 43, and they have two children aged six and eight.
Chef Galand, who hopes to visit Singapore at least twice a year, puts a common misconception to rest.
On the pies' signature funny faces, he says: "People think the faces are drawn with chocolate. It's actually a milk and caramel paste. You can't really taste anything though. The faces help us to mark the flavours and make people smile."
Pie Face opens early next month from 10am to 10pm daily at 313@Somerset, B3-10, 313 Orchard Road. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/piefacesingapore.