Cover JL Studio chef-founder Jimmy Lim

The chef-founder of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Taichung, Taiwan shares his culinary inspirations and the one ingredient he can’t live without

Jimmy Lim is a Singaporean through and through. After working at lauded restaurants across the globe, including French Laundry in California, Noma and Geranium in Copenhagen, and Per Se in New York, an opportunity to open his own restaurant in Taichung, Taiwan came in 2017. Tapping into his culinary influences growing up in Singapore and the culinary techniques he learned from his previous stints, he opened JL Studio which serves up the flavours of his home but using Taiwanese ingredients. 

It quickly impressed gourmands and critics alike—even making history by being the first restaurant in Taichung to earn two Michelin stars. It also entered the prestigious Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list by nabbing the 26th spot. 

Based in Taiwan for five years, Lim is flying back to Singapore next month to take part in the Michelin Guide Singapore’s 2022 star revelation and gala dinner on July 12. With the theme Singapore Celebrated, he will join a selection of local chefs and Singaporean chefs based overseas to cook up dishes that pay tribute to Singapore cuisine.

Before the big event, we catch up with Lim to talk about his culinary influences, favourite ingredient and the person he would love to cook with—dead or alive.

Don’t miss: A Taste of Home: Jimmy Lim on the Local Dishes He Misses the Most in Singapore

Who has been the biggest influence on you professionally to date?

Jimmy Lim (JL): My late father has been my biggest culinary influence. His passion for cooking aside, he was a hard worker who would go to work even when he was ill. I learned about perseverance from him too; despite encountering many problems in life, he would always stand tall and handle them with grace and elegance. He was also a family man and while he had a tough exterior, he was a softie inside. These qualities have stuck with me and have helped propel my professional culinary career.

Which book do you think every chef should read?

JL:  I love the book White Heat by Marco Pierre White. It just got me fired up back in the day.

Which chef would you most like to cook with, dead or alive?

JL: If I had the superpower to turn back time, I would love to be able to cook with my father and grandmother. They were such amazing cooks and it’s a pity I didn’t have enough time to learn from them. Thinking about it, I wonder if they would whoop my ass for cooking certain dishes my way.

Read more: Michelin Guides’ Gwendal Poullennec on What He Learned Over the Covid-19 Pandemic

What is the best restaurant you have ever eaten at?

JL: Geranium in Copenhagen, Denmark. The restaurant has it all—amazing food, service, ambience and view.

What is your favourite food city or foodie travel destination?

JL: South Korea. It was the last country I visited before the Covid-19 pandemic, and I was impressed by the country’s food and culture. I feel like my previous trip only scratched the surface of what it has to offer, and I would love to discover more.

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What is the one ingredient can’t you live without?

JL: The ingredient I think I can’t live without is citrus—all kinds of citrus. Adding its juice to food is like my secret weapon that ‘wakes up’ any dish. It can make salad dressings brighter, fish tastier and baked goods lighter with a delightful tang that balances out anything too sweet or salty.

It’s your last meal—what’s on the menu?

JL: Golden and silver egg with Chinese amaranth, wonton soup and fried white bee hoon.

JL Studio, No. 689, Yifeng Road, Section 4, Nantun District, Taichung City, Taiwan 408, +886 4 2380 3570 

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