Humility is an essential value when opening a restaurant in a new location, says French chef Anne-Sophie Pic.
She is opening a 50-seat, high-end restaurant, to be called La Dame de Pic, at the Raffles Hotel, which is expected to open in the first quarter of next year after renovation works.
In an e-mail interview with The Straits Times, she says: "The objective here is not to compete, but to be complementary with other chefs. Create together a culinary synergy, a dynamic to improve global gastronomic tourism and attractiveness.
"I believe many chefs can contribute to that on the Singapore scene."
She cites Julien Royer of two-Michelin-starred Odette at the National Gallery Singapore, Dave Pynt of one-Michelin-starred modern Australian barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends in Teck Lim Road and Sebastien Lepinoy of two-Michelin-starred Les Amis at Shaw Centre as chefs she admires.
She says: "We are always really involved in every restaurant we create, to offer the 'Anne-Sophie Pic experience' outside our walls, preserving our values and identity, while being able to adapt ourselves to the local markets and the past history of places."
The 49-year-old comes from a line of chefs and grew up in her family's restaurant, Maison Pic, in Valence, south-east France.
It first garnered three Michelin stars in 1934, under her grandfather Andre Pic. She wanted to strike out on her own, however, and was a management trainee in Japan and the United States.
She eventually heeded the call of the kitchen and, in 1992, at age 23, she trained with her father Jacques, shortly before he died. In 1997, she took control of the restaurant.
Without any formal training, she became, in 2007, the first female chef in France to garner three stars for her restaurant, dealing with the loss of a Michelin star, nearbankruptcy and debt along the way.
The mother of one, who runs her restaurant empire with her husband David Sinapian, helms the three-Michelin-starred AnneSophie Pic - The Restaurant and three casual restaurants, a hotel and a cooking school in Valence; and also has restaurants in Paris, Lausanne and London.
She says the partnership with Raffles Hotel is a natural choice because her family's culinary heritage spans more than a century, like the hotel's history.
She has been to Singapore three times - first in 1990 as a student, then in 2000 to cook at a festival at the Raffles celebrating women chefs and wine-makers, and the third was for a World Gourmet Summit dinner in 2008.
"When Raffles Hotel Singapore offered me this partnership, I felt very proud," she says.
"It is an honour to be part of this amazing adventure in this legendary place full of history. I had the privilege to stay there during my visit in 2000 and was amazed by this historical building, its architecture, design and traditions.
"In a certain way, I feel a sort of connection to the place as we share a historical background, stories and values. Pic's history started in 1889, very close to Raffles' first steps in 1887."
What can she bring to the fine-dining scene in Singapore, which recently saw the closures of Restaurant Andre and the late Joel Robuchon's two restaurants in Resorts World Sentosa?
"I would say my specific culinary identity and global vision of cuisine that I have built throughout the years.
"I always look for aromatic complexity and powerful taste. The objective is to surprise guests with each mouthful, allow them to read and discover unique flavours in each dish," she says.
"My feminine approach also brings a particular emotion and expression to my dishes."
She plans to look for new products and producers in local markets and to create new dishes.
"I have always been attracted to Asian cuisine and products. I am convinced I will expand my palette of flavours that is essential to enrich my creative imagination and enlarge my culinary vision."
Asked how she will get Singapore diners excited, she says: "For me, a tasting experience is a non-linear exercise that I want to turn into real emotion by stimulating all the senses."
Tan Hsueh Yun