André Chiang as photographed for our book Octaphilosophy
André Chiang shock: Restaurant ANDRE to close
Chef announces he will close his Michelin-starred Singapore restaurant next Valentine's Day to return to Taiwan
Running a Michelin-starred restaurant is a tough business. Many end in failure. So, chef and Phaidon author André Chiang has surprised Asia's gourmets by announcing plans to close Restaurant ANDRE in Singapore not due to financial collapse or culinary disaster, but instead because of its sheer faultlessness.
“I’m a perfectionist and for the past 30 years of my career, I’ve been looking for that unrealistic 'moment of perfection'," said Chiang in a letter to Phaidon announcing the closure. "Three Michelin stars, the World’s Top 50 restaurants… I realised, at this moment, it is perfect as it is.”
Chiang decided to shutter his world-famous establishment on 10 October, the date of the restaurant's seventh anniversary. The final service will take place on Valentine's Day, 14 February 2018, leaving Restaurant ANDRE with, as Chiang says – in keeping with his signature eight-sided culinary philosophy or Octaphilosophy – an eight-year legacy.
The chef pioneered his inimitable hybrid of French and East Asian cookery at Restaurant ANDRE, winning over both local diners and European critics; the restaurant received two Michelin stars in the inaugural 2017 Michelin Guide to Singapore.
Chiang has asked for the restaurant to be removed from the 2018 Singapore guide, and, more controversially, has requested his Taipei restaurant RAW to be excluded from Michelin's forthcoming guide to Taiwan, to allow him to focus on his new venture.
The Taiwanese chef plans to return home to Taipei, to cook and teach at RAW, adding that he hopes "RAW will be the pure place where I can focus on educating, developing others, and cooking after my retirement from Restaurant ANDRE."
André's letter reads: "Since day one of Restaurant ANDRE I told myself I want to let all my diners have a hand-written card by me when they celebrate their special moment with us; until today, Restaurant ANDRE would only open for operation when I myself was cooking; I greet every table, every single guest, make sure we have 30 happy guests every service; my wife decorates the restaurant, and everyday personally arranges the flowers and scents the room.
"We move around the tables of the entire restaurant from the first to the third floor every single service. We change the configuration to fit the room and the agenda of each guest; we are still doing it. We decide to change the menu spontaneously whenever we want, there's not a single overlapping dish from lunch to dinner on the same day; we are still doing it. We are determined to make Singapore proud, make Asia proud, to be one of the best restaurants in the world; we did it, and are still doing it!"
"We never doubted ourselves, although everything we try to achieve, no one has ever done it before, but that doesn’t matter, because we know we are unique and we are striving for our 'perfection'. I have a quote on the cover of my biography, it says: 'The moment I perfect a dish is the moment I let go from my menu.'
"I started to cook when I was 13, and this month will be the 30th year of my professional culinary journey. I want to go back to where I started, I want to go back to cooking, have a balanced life and cook happily.
"I always ask this of my brigade, “Why you want to be a chef?” The happiness of cooking a beautiful, tasty dish, not for the fame, not for having a thousand Likes, but through the process of being a true professional, makes us a better person; now I’m so proud to see that each one of Restaurant ANDRE’s team being Honest- Passionate- Creative- Flexible- and Positive individuals."
We really cannot wait to see what you cook up in Taipei, André. Here's to the next pioneering eight years. For more on Chef Chiang’s life, recipes and outlook invest in a copy of the truly beautiful book Octaphilosophy here.