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  • FEMALE SPEAKER: Welcome to Talks at Google in Singapore.

  • We're live here but there's people also dialing

  • in from live stream.

  • And today we're going to have chef Andre

  • Chung from Restaurant Andre to be here with us.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • Chef Andre's new book, "Octaphilosophy,"

  • just released this week.

  • So we're one the first readers to get a copy.

  • And he's also going to share a lot of the secrets

  • from this book during this talk.

  • Chef Andre has been trained by many of the world's top chefs,

  • and he is also among the best chefs.

  • And he mainly learned his culinary skills in France,

  • and he has brought the taste of south France

  • back to Singapore in his restaurant Andre in Chinatown.

  • Yes.

  • And Restaurant Andre has been one of the top 50 restaurants

  • in the world, and one of the top three in Asia.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • Before we start the talk, we're going

  • to play that creative process from restaurant Andre

  • again, just for us to have a look at how he creates

  • some of the famous dishes.

  • [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • -It's kind of a traditional fine dining sequence that

  • happends in the main course.

  • You've got have the cheese course.

  • When it first arrived in Singapore,

  • I realize that at the beginning, although you

  • have the best French artisan cheese,

  • not everybody appreciates it.

  • Everyone enjoys every single course until the cheese.

  • The cheese course seems like one of the courses

  • where we can not do anything.

  • In respect of the French tradition and sequence,

  • we would like to keep it.

  • But how can I inject something that really belongs here?

  • So I decided to do a look-alike cheese

  • course of dehydrated milk bavarois in the dry aging room.

  • It's exactly like cheese making.

  • So we put it on the grill so it had the nice ventilation

  • and it dries it slowly.

  • And I would flip it on different sides

  • until it half dehyrdrated and created the crust over it.

  • The inside is milky, like a Camembert.

  • We see ourselves as like an artisan

  • because we're making our own cheese, which

  • is something very farmer style.

  • So we get the hay from France-- really nice hay

  • with a lot of different herbs inside.

  • And then we dry them and roast it.

  • And then we make a hay ice cream served the Camembert.

  • For those that don't appreciate the traditional artisan cheese,

  • they could have something that is similar-- very light,

  • very refreshing, very sweet and totally unique.

  • I spend most of my time in the south of France, Medditeranean.

  • I want to create that really, very classy--

  • or you can say Medditeranean on Spanish dish.

  • You have a charcoal grill squid with piquillos smoked pepper

  • and olive oil.

  • A very simple dish.

  • When I was thinking of the dish, what makes you remember?

  • Is it the squid itself or it's the combination

  • of the squid and the piquillos or what is it?

  • It's that smokiness.

  • It's that burning edge that makes the whole dish to life

  • Nothing can be replaced with that burning

  • flavor from the charcoal.

  • So what about if I want to have an ultimate dish, that I just

  • eat the charcoal.

  • And that's where I start to really work on it.

  • And we make fried charcoal dough.

  • So we serve burning charcoal with the friend charcoal dough.

  • And then we serve a piquillos dip with the charcoal squid.

  • In fact, the squid, or the piquillos in a dish

  • they are just accessories in a way.

  • We designed that in the middle of the menu.

  • So sometimes when you see a normal menu, you start it small

  • and the portion gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger.

  • For a long menu, sometimes half way through it,

  • it's getting heavy.

  • You're getting tired.

  • If half way, we can have a break or we

  • can have something fun-- that kind of lightening

  • up, freshening up a little bit.

  • And then we restart again.

  • Every night, we have a guest finish very late.

  • Most of the time they finish at 11:00, 11:30, 12:00,

  • or even the later sometimes.

  • I just feel that I want to serve something like breakfast,

  • and then say, hey guys.

  • You've got to go.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • You know, it's breakfast time.

  • Kaya toast is the breakfast in Singapore.

  • It's white toast-- grilled white toast.

  • And then you have kaya, which is a coconut and pandan.

  • Then you have one slice of cold salted butter.

  • And that's it.

  • That's kaya toast.

  • Well, at the end of the meal, you serve coffee of course.

  • So coffee served with the kaya toast--

  • that's kind of the ending or a beginning.

  • But yet I don't want to just serve

  • kaya toast like anywhere else.

  • I still want to keep my French background.

  • I started to make white toast look like macaroons.

  • We do it exactly the same way.

  • We grill it, make our own kaya.

  • And then you must have one icy cold salted butter inside.

  • If you're eating with your eyes open, it's kind of a macaroon.

  • But if you're eating with your eyes closed,

  • it's exactly the same kaya toast.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • [END PLAYBACK]

  • ANDRE CHIANG: All right.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • So OK.

  • Good afternoon, guys.

  • So today I'll be here to talk about Octaphilosophy and also

  • why we're doing everything and what's

  • behind it or our thinking process.

  • So the video that you saw just now, it's just a few dishes

  • is that is why we do it.

  • And I guess a lot of you have already been to the restaurant

  • and you know what we do.

  • Some of you don't know.

  • But that doesn't matter.

  • So today we're going to go start from the beginning.

  • As you can see, the Octaphilosophy--

  • what is Octaphilosophy?

  • Why the octagon is so important to us

  • and why did everything come from it?

  • So just starting with Octaphilosophy-- Octaphilosophy

  • is something that when I first started-- before I

  • started Restaurant Andre.

  • My parents are Taiwanese.

  • I was born in Taiwan.

  • And I grew up in France.

  • I arrived in Singapore eight years ago.

  • That's how everything started.

  • And we wanted to come back to Asia

  • and start up our own business.

  • So I was thinking, OK.

  • So how to tell people that this is Andre's cuisine--

  • this is not Taiwanese cuisine.

  • This is not French cuisine.

  • This is something that belongs to me

  • and it collects everything everywhere I go.

  • And it becomes my own style of cuisine.

  • So I started going back to look at everything that I did,

  • that I created the past 20 years.

  • And I realized I don't have anything fixed.

  • Everywhere I go, I collect ideas.

  • It becomes.

  • I get inspired by different things.

  • I grew up in an artist family.

  • My mom was a chef.

  • My father is a Chinese calligrapher.

  • My brother is an actor.

  • My sister is a clothing designer.

  • And I'm very into pottery and sculpture.

  • So in a way, we were trained since we

  • were little to appreciate each other's work--

  • to appreciate the beautiful things in life

  • in different forms.

  • So that means a lot to me.

  • And so I look at everything that I've

  • created in the past 20 years.

  • And I realized these eight elements

  • that are constantly repeating in my creations-- it's

  • just like, OK.

  • Our hairstyle, our makeup-- if you

  • look at what your picture was five years or 10 years ago,

  • you'll say, oh my God.

  • I got a hairstyle like that.

  • And my make up is horrible.

  • But at that time, you feel so good about it.

  • Yeah?

  • So same thing for me.

  • I said, you know I constantly change my style or taste.

  • But the one thing that never changed probably

  • is my favorite color.

  • Yeah.

  • So that's the essence.

  • So when I look at everything that I've created,

  • these eight elements are constantly

  • repeating in my creation.

  • So I said, yeah.

  • So how to tell people that this is Andre's cuisine--

  • these eight elements become so important.

  • Because no matter where I go, no matter what I create,

  • or when I create, these elements-- eight elements

  • are always there.

  • So that's Andre.

  • So we just try to give it a name and give it

  • a reason so people can understand it easily,

  • that this is Octo-philosphy-- that this is what we do.

  • So when we first started, I always was constantly

  • asking myself the question, all the time,

  • are we moving forward or are we moving backwards?

  • Oh by the way, you guys can have a lunch [INAUDIBLE]

  • while eating.

  • It was so cool.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • I like it here.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • Yeah.

  • So where were we at?

  • I should have one too, like, you know.

  • So yeah, when I first started, I constantly

  • asked myself questions-- are we moving forward

  • or are we moving backwards with everything that we create?

  • Yeah.

  • So if you think about a dining experience,

  • if you go to a casual restaurant, and you go.

  • You sit down.

  • And you order.

  • And you eat.

  • If you're at a fine dining restaurant, you sit down.

  • And then they're going to ask you 50 questions before you

  • reach your first course.

  • Oh you have to select this, and select that.

  • You want this.

  • You want one that.

  • We have 250 selections of teas and things.

  • So can I start?

  • OK.

  • And every dish, there were so many things in the there.

  • And the menu, it's so beautifully written.

  • So what is that?

  • Is that the ultimate dining experience?

  • Or are we just forcing the guests to catch all that?

  • Can we just keep everything simple,

  • and leave this space for imagination?

  • Not giving you the whole book and say, OK.

  • You have to read through it.

  • Can we leave this space for the imagination,

  • for the creativity?

  • So that's what I think-- that if I just

  • put these eight words on my menu,

  • and I leave the rest to the guests to discover.

  • It's not empty.

  • It just leaves a room for you to put in your imagination,

  • or you feel that your answer to that

  • question-- you filled in the space of your dining

  • experience.

  • And only the dining experience that fits you

  • is the ultimate dining experience.

  • So that's how I started out the philosophy.

  • So these eight elements, later we're going to go through.

  • Today I just took eight pictures inside the book.

  • So we can just go through it.

  • And I'll just show you what it is roughly.

  • So we've got these eight elements.

  • So how do I create