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Interview with Chef Florence Dalia

Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Chef Florence Dalia, whom we had the privilege of meeting at the French Chamber of Commerce gala event. A distinguished 2 Michelin Star French chef, Florence recently ventured into the vibrant culinary scene of Taiwan with her restaurant ’16 by Flo.’ Join us as we delve into her culinary journey, experiences, and the inspiration behind her innovative approach to French cuisine.

Hello Florence, it is a pleasure to meet you. To start this interview can you share with us about your journey

I began my culinary journey in Burgundy, where I participated in cooking crews and classes. From there, I ventured to different countries, including the UK and France, to further my culinary education. I also had the privilege of working in Monaco under the guidance of Chef Robuchon. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with various chefs, each contributing to my growth and expertise. My journey led me to Asia, where I’ve spent the last 18 years honing my skills. And recently I had the privilege of realizing my dream of opening my own chef’s table, specializing in French cuisine.

Why did you choose to become a chef?

Well, there aren’t any other chefs in my family, but my mom was always cooking for my siblings and me. Everything she made was homemade, and I remember being in awe of her food whenever I walked into the kitchen. School wasn’t really my thing, and by the time I turned 16, I knew I wanted to pursue something I was passionate about. Fortunately, the culinary industry was booming at that time, so I decided to dive right in. Since then, I’ve been immersed in the world of cooking, and I couldn’t be happier. I have so much passion for my job!

What have been your proudest moment so far ?

I would say, for sure the second [Michelin] star. Bruno and Cado, my sous-chefs, were already here. For all of us it was a big surprise, we worked so hard for this. Another beautiful moment would be the opening of my own restaurant. So, I would it is half/half between those two moments.

How do you navigate the culinary landscape in Taiwan, considering the challenges of importing ingredients, and how do you balance French culinary techniques with local sourcing?

In Taiwan, it presents unique challenges as we can’t import everything as easily as in Hong Kong or Singapore. Our approach involves prioritizing local sourcing while retaining key French ingredients. While we do import certain products, we strive to maintain French culinary techniques, just as we would in Paris. This enables us to achieve a fusion of French fine dining experience with the local Taiwanese culture

Can you share about your culinary preferences and recent menu creations

I have a strong affinity for working with vegetables, and I particularly enjoy crafting dishes with fish and seafood. However, my latest menu venture involved a pigeon dish encased in crust. The challenge lay in achieving the perfect balance of textures and flavors: crispiness from the pastry, coupled with precise cooking and temperature control of the pigeon. It’s crucial to understand that while we may have personal preferences, executing a dish to perfection involves meticulous attention to detail. Ensuring that every element harmonizes seamlessly throughout the entire dining experience is the ultimate goal. Crafting a cohesive culinary journey for guests presents a greater challenge than merely creating individual dishes, in my opinion

What is the biggest challenge for you, as a French Chef in Asia

I would say that the hardest part is communication‚Ķ my Chinese is still not very good, but I have a teacher to help me improve. Effective communication is crucial, as it demonstrates my commitment to integrating into the local culinary scene. That’s why I continue to attend Chinese classes. Additionally, I am naturally sociable and thrive on meeting new people and experiencing new things regularly. It’s an essential aspect of my personal and professional growth journey.

As you mentioned earlier you travel a lot. What have been your best discovery while travelling to different countries in the world.

A LOT! I have traveled extensively across most continents, allowing me to immerse myself in diverse cultures and cuisines. One thing I make sure to do is explore the street food scene wherever I go. While my team may enjoy fast food, I prefer to indulge in the authentic flavors of local street vendors. When traveling, I adopt a balanced approach. For lunch, I seek out fine dining experiences like our visit to Odette in Singapore, savoring each moment. In the evenings, I love to explore local markets and hawker stalls, sampling a variety of street foods. I believe that to truly understand a country’s culinary landscape, you need to embrace both fine dining and street food experiences.

What is your primary source of inspiration for staying updated on culinary trends, particularly within the French gastronomy scene?

Well, I have to say Instagram! I follow chefs on Instagram, which allows me to keep track of what’s happening in France. Additionally, I make it a point to visit France regularly. Professionally, these trips involve meeting partners and exploring new restaurants. Personally, I also have family and friends there. These visits help me stay current with culinary trends and developments in the French culinary scene.

French Shopping, Dining & Lifestyle guide in Singapore