Posted on: May 10, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

Our interview with Julien Royer, an award-winning French chef and co-owner at “Odette”, a three Michelin-starred modern French restaurant located in Singapore, who was able to combine the best from both French and Singaporean cuisines into a tasty an intriguing combination.

The Fashiongton Post: Who usually cooks at home when you gather for a regular family meal – you or anyone from your family?

Julien Royer: I don’t cook too often at home, as I spend most of my days at the restaurant. However, when it’s just my wife Agnes and I at home, then I’m the one who cooks. When we host friends, I also like to cook some good sharing dishes!

F.P.: Having in mind there are many discussions on this topic lately, what is the main difference in concept between the traditional French haute cuisine and Singaporean cuisine?

J.R.: Traditional French cuisine is about mastering the classics – it’s like an art form where technique, precision and presentation are highly valued. Singaporean cuisine, on the other hand, celebrates a blend of cultures, heritage and flavors. The combination of both cuisines opens many exciting possibilities and creations for the global diner.

F.P.: How often do you change the menu at your restaurant, and how often do you add any new dishes to it?

J.R.: It always starts with seasonal products. Our menu revolves on this principle – integrity of ingredients, allowing the products to shine on the plate which has always been our starting point right from the beginning. There is no such rule at “Odette” where we change the menu two, three or four times a year. Doing so will hinder our ability to express creativity, spontaneity and embrace seasonality.

F.P.: Ever thought of a collaboration with a fashion designer or a brand to create some kind of a special menu?

J.R.: Yes! In fact, we do this occasionally when partnering with luxury brands or designers. It is always a cool and fun exercise to plan such menus.

F.P.: Tell us about the day when you found out your restaurant got three Michelin stars. Was it a call or an email or any special visit of the Michelin representative to inform you on that?

J.R.: I was actually alone at home at around 4 p.m., getting ready for the Michelin Guide Gala dinner when I received a phone call from the Michelin Guide. It is a moment I will always remember and a very special, emotional moment that I cherish. Later that day and throughout the week, we celebrated with the team. I strongly believe behind every great restaurant is a dedicated team that shares our vision and values. It is deeply humbling to be recognized for our hard work, and we’re always grateful for the support that allows us to do what we love.

F.P.: Is French cuisine changing rapidly or is it more about stability and permanency?

J.R.: French cuisine is definitely evolving and it’s exciting. I love that we are seeing a lot of chefs revisit traditional French culinary techniques and new generations of aspiring chefs opening French restaurants infused with their own sense of culinary innovations and creativity. Just like at “Odette”, our cuisine remains French in DNA but over the years, my approach has evolved considerably to infuse a sense of place, marrying the principles of French cuisine with inspiration from Asia’s rich culinary heritage. It is crucial to recognize where you’re cooking and who you’re cooking for, understanding preferred tastes, customs and habits in order to curate an experience accordingly.

F.P.: Your favorite meal when you are not in the restaurant but at home?

J.R.: Some nice cheeses with a slice of sourdough and a glass of wine!

F.P.: Top three chef dishes we should definitely try when at your restaurant?

J.R.: First and foremost it would be our “Kampot Pepper Crusted Pigeon”. Pigeon is one of my favorite game meats to work with, as it is something I grew up eating, and living in Asia, I wanted to showcase it with my own take. Our “Foie Gras & Abalone Duo” is one of our classic dishes at “Odette”. We serve it with a savory yuzu-infused pork broth, inspired by “Bak kut teh”, garlic, ginger and yuzu zest. The addition of yuzu draws the flavors together, elevating taste and texture. This “Odette” signature represents the evolution of our culinary approach, remaining French in DNA with elegant Asian sensibilities that my team and I have gradually infused over the years. For desserts, I’d recommend “Blanc”. Made of amazake, Hokkaido milk, Vanuatu vanilla and inspired by the shade white, this dessert is feminine, layered and just magical.

F.P.: Your piece of advice to young chefs and culinary or fashion inspired readers of The Fashiongton Post?

J.R.: I strongly believe you need to have passion, curiosity and humility. Passion to learn, grow and constantly improve your craft is extremely important, this can take years but is necessary to build a strong foundation. Always be curious to explore, learn, experiment and develop your own palate. Lastly, to ground yourself in humility, never lose sight of where you came from and continue to learn from everyone around you.

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