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Three-Michelin-Starred Odette – A conversation with Julien Royer

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At the heart of Singapore’s National Gallery lies the delicate and dreamy setting of Odette. In that very place, French Chef Julien Royer, award-winning talent with three Michelin stars, invited So Chic to his table…

Named in tribute to Royer’s grandmother who believed that the fundamental pleasures of a meal should be delivered in a thoughtful and hospitable manner, Odette heralds a new age in fine dining.

To me, dining at a restaurant is a form of escapism, we act as “Marchands de Bonheur”, and this is what truly brings a smile to my face every day. Our passion goes beyond just cuisine, it’s about providing genuine hospitality to our guests. We are overjoyed to share our passion with everyone here in Singapore.
Julien Royer

Good morning Julien, could you start by introducing yourself?

Good morning, my name is Julien Royer, I am the chef and owner of Restaurant Odette in Singapore which I opened almost 8 years ago with my business partner Wee Teng Wen. We also opened another restaurant called Claudine in Dempsey next to the Botanic Gardens last year. I am originally from Auvergne and learned from Michelin star Chefs in France before traveling around the world with my Wife. We went to the Caribbean, to London, to French Polynesia, and finally we settled here in Singapore.

Could you share with us your key milestones so far?

Opening Odette in 2015 and garnering numerous accolades, including being voted the best restaurant in Asia for two consecutive years and earning two, then three Michelin stars would be our biggest Milestones. Recently, Odette was named the restaurant of the year by the esteemed Les Grandes Tables du Monde, an association with whom we work!

Regarding your recent nomination on Air France, how does it feel to be part of the 17 chefs selected to cater and promote French excellence in the air?

It’s like if you were a French footballer and you were called up to play for the national team
Julien Royer

The collaboration began three years ago and has been renewed with the addition of 14 new dishes for Air France’s Business class and La Premiere. It is a great honour to be among the few selected chefs creating dishes and menus for the national carrier, akin to being called up to play for the French national team. The goal is to bring a slice of Odette in the air from Singapore to Paris.

What dishes will you be proposing on air France for April 2023?

There are 14 new dishes, showcasing a fusion of French cuisine and Asian flavours. The backbone and the DNA of the cuisine remains French, reflecting what I’ve learned in France, but it has evolved with a zest of Asian influences in taste and aesthetics after spending over a decade in Asia. One example of this fusion is the Prawn Ravioli, served with a sauce made from Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), ginger, lemongrass, and coconut milk. Another dish is a Sesame-crusted Cod served with a wok of vegetables, including carrots and onions, seasoned with coriander and a traditional Beurre Blanc sauce made with shallots, white wine, vinegar, and Sake.

What do you want to convey through your ‘cuisine’ on Air France/ in your restaurants in Singapore?

The philosophy at Odette is centred around integrity, respect for the ingredients, and purity.
Julien Royer

As Chefs, we grow and mature with time, and we have a tendency to remove rather than add elements to a dish. The real focus is on respecting the inherent qualities of carefully sourced ingredients, allowing their natural flavours to shine. I want to bring finesse and elegance to the dishes, allowing the ingredients to taste like themselves, such as a tomato tasting like a tomato, and a carrot tasting like a carrot.

The choice of produce drives the creation of the dish. We start by the selection of the produce, based on their seasonality and availability. Once we have confirmed the quality and consistency of the ingredients, we start designing recipes, experimenting with cooking methods such as grilling, steaming, and poaching. Then we determine the garnish and sauces to enhance the flavour as they are a fundamental aspect of French Cuisine!

Is there something in the food world you are looking to explore or learn about today?

Our goal at the moment is to explore healthy yet delicious cuisine. It’s often a challenge to cuisine that is both healthy and satisfying while bringing gourmandise, but our aim is to create gourmet dishes that are not overly rich and provide a balanced experience for the well-being of our customers, team, and environment.

Have there been any changes in the way you approach or think about cooking after the pandemic? How have you adapted to this situation?

There has definitely been a lot of challenges, and this was not an easy period for the food-service industry. The most significant change was a first-ever heightened awareness about the integrity and origins of every element we put on a plate. This was finally a positive development because at Odette we emphasise greatly on quality, sourcing and choose to work with small producers, people that really do agriculture with sustainability in their mind.

The restaurant faced other challenges like closure during three lockdowns in Singapore. Keeping the team onboard during this time was important as hiring personnel in the food, service, sommelier, and kitchen industries is extremely difficult today. My top priority was geared toward this. The restaurant quickly pivoted to offering a takeaway service, “Odette at Home,” which was met with skepticism but proved to be successful and kept the team afloat and motivated

Would you have any future plans you would like to share with us?

Yes, a lot of exciting plans are on their way! For Odette, we’re launching a R&D kitchen with a little surprise. This will help us reach new heights and create more. At Claudine, the restaurant in Dempsey, we’re also working on a beautiful terrace that includes honey hives to make our own Singaporean honey. Working with Nutrinest, this terrace will be a space for people to relax with drinks and light bites, enjoy live music, play pétanque on weekends, and enjoy food from a new food truck!

Is there anything you would like to add?

I would like to thank all our guests in Singapore and those who visit our restaurant. We’ve gone through difficult times, but we are lucky to have received a lot of support from the local and expatriate communities. Seeing this outpouring of support has been truly heart-warming, and it’s amazing that people are going out again.

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