Chef André Chiang is known for being one of the best chefs of Asia and of the world but also for being the creator of the Octaphilosophy. Following his experience in restaurants of great culinary knowledge, most of them French, Chiang has identified eight elements that are essential in any good meal. “unique, pure, texture, memory, terroir, South, salt and artisan”.
Unique: Special and genuine. It must be a unique experience. Conscious that the vast majority of flavours have already been invented, he looks for originality with the combination of ingredients, presentation, etc.
Pure: No distortion of the natural flavour of the food products. This is why Chiang always uses raw ingredients, with nothing that could mask the original flavour.
Texture: Playing with this element can give exceptional results. The texture can be in the ingredients or the crockery.
Memory: As with Proust’s madeleine, Chiang believes that everything we eat leaves its mark in our memory. Alluding to memory is a key factor; for this reason, one of the dishes in the meal could be an original onion soup.
Terroir: Unlike René Redzepi, who reinvents Nordic cuisine, Chiang wants to remember the origin by respecting the elements that make a dish authentic. At the same time, he experiments with the sensations and feelings inspired by places. One example is the dish created in memory of the earthquakes that occurred in Japan in 2011, which contains little more than rice, miso and edamame.
Salt: Appealing to the sea and its salty taste. It uses food products that come from the sea so those who taste the dish are transported there.
South: Specifically, the South of France. Chiang’s experience in restaurants like l’Atelier, Pierre Gagnaire, L’Astrance and La Maison Troisgros have made him an indisputable heir of French Nouvelle Cuisine.
Artisan: the chef pays homage to the farmers and fishermen who make it possible to have the ingredients and who also ensure that they are of good quality.
However, not all the dishes have the eight elements perfectly balanced but rather one may stand out more than another in each dish. Indeed, in the restaurant “André” in Singapur, the chef offers a set menu with eight dishes in each one of which one element stands out compared to the rest. Thus we find two levels of Octaphilosophy, that of each dish and that of the ensemble as a whole.