Love is one of the most essential aspects in life, and Julien Royer have tasted the quality of its result first hand. From a simple concept of ‘grandmother’s cooking’, his establishment, Odette, has currently been acknowledged as this year’s best restaurant in Asia (via Asia’s Best 50 Restaurant Awards). But of course, that alone would not be enough, as he has combines all of his skills, talents and passion to explore more about food and their ingredients into his Two-Michelin Star restaurant. In this casual chatting session, Monsieur Royer shares some of his thoughts; from innovation, philosophy, to his notable takes of Singapore.
1. Congratulations for winning the Asia’s Best 50 Restaurant 2019! What would this prestigious crowning means for Odette and yourself in the future?
We’ve very honored, humbled and grateful for this. We totally did not expect it. Of course this is an amazing inspiration for us to keep working hard, to push to do even better every day than the day before.
2. We are so fascinated by your ‘Zero-Waste’ approach in cooking, could you elaborate more about the amazing concept?
We get the most amazing produce and I really want people to learn how to savor every part of it. For example, our signature pigeon dish where the pigeon is prepared three ways, showcasing the many facets of flavor and texture within. It is comprised of a pigeon liver parfait, confit leg and breast, pan-seared to finish.
3. Having gained so many acknowledgements in culinary scene, how do you cope with the pressure to maintain and improve the quality of your work?
Of course it can be stressful and we work very hard but I love what I do and I love my team. I love that I am able to share my deep love and joy of food that my grandmother taught me, and that keeps me inspired.
4. What is your main cooking philosophy? And how would you apply it in your culinary creation? What’s the impact you’d expect from those enjoying your dishes?
We only use produce that is in season, simply because it makes culinary sense – nothing that is out of its season is at its peak. Our menu revolves on this principle and we have not shifted from it since we started. Our suppliers are always keen to introduce us to produce as soon as they are coming into their peak, and we work with them closely to always improve our understanding of this. We want to help our guests create unforgettable memories by presenting remarkable dishes made with the purest ingredients, delivered in the most thoughtful, welcoming and hospitable manner.
5. Of all the experience during your career, could you name us the lowest one, and how did it affect you in a positive way?
Initially, when I first started out as a chef it was difficult being the one always working when everyone else would be on holiday, through all big celebrations and special occasions. But I can’t say there has been any real low point as I have been incredibly lucky and this journey has been amazing every step of the way.
6. As someone who was born in a rural, quaint countryside in French, how did you adapt to the bustling metropolitan lifestyle of Singapore; any memorable ‘culture shock’ moment that you could share with us?
Before Singapore I was living in London and before that the French West Indies. I’ve had the privilege of living all across the world and cooking in so many amazing places so it was not a radical change for me. Singapore is at the crossroads of the world and because the culinary scene here is growing so much from year to year, I find that incredibly exciting.
7. If you can master one skill right now (outside of cooking) what would it be (and why)?
I would love to become an advanced sommelier and work on my wine expertise. I love wine and would love to deepen my knowledge of it.
8. ‘Odette’ is a beautiful, catchy name for a fine culinary establishment; any story behind it?
When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother, Odette. She taught me about a respect for seasonality and products which goes beyond any kind of food philosophy. She was a huge inspiration to me, she was the one who made me realize how joy and love can be demonstrated through food and showed me how the most remarkable dishes can come from the simplest ingredients. My restaurant is named in honor of her.
9. How does the difference of culture between France and Singapore affect your cuisines? Is there any notable change that you notice each years of your career?
The DNA of the cuisine at Odette is French because of my heritage, my training but the cuisine is also influenced by where we are; which is a crossroad of Southeast Asia with many different influences, nationalities and religions. Spill one Singaporean phrase that really catches your mind (and the reason why) Probably “Never try, never know”. My team says this quite a lot and it expresses my sentiments about cooking and ingredients. If we never taste, we’ll never really understand the real potential of the produce we are working with.