There might not be a foodie who hasn’t heard of André Chiang. Here is a man with a buzz cut, almost tall enough to pass off as a professional basketball player, who plays a mean improv game in the kitchen and makes slam dunks with dishes that never fail to surprise.
“Call it instinct, or maybe it’s talent or a gift, the way chefs come up with a dish or idea out of nowhere. My style changes all the time—I never have a fixed formula or dishes or flavour. But I always have eight different elements that I realised is ‘André’, so I called it Octaphilosophy,” Chiang explains.
Meals comprise degustation menus, which change according to the fresh produce delivered each day. Each dish is characterised by one of the eight elements. “You don’t pick what to eat from a menu. And there’s no one telling you that you have to eat from left to right or how many layers your food has.”
The menu he places in front of diners is inscribed only with eight sensorial keywords: artisan, memory, pure, salt, south, terroir, texture and unique. “Octaphilosophy—wow, it sounds abstract at first,” he concedes with a laugh. “But actually, we try to be as simple as possible and leave the rest to our guests’ imaginations. The eight words act as a hint to the inspiration behind each dish, but we give diners the room to fill with what they feel and experience.”