Here’s another Michelin-starred restaurant that made it to The Peak Malaysia’s Epicurean Hall of Fame! Contemporary French dining restaurant Les Amis bagged themselves 2 stars in Singapore’s first ever Michelin guide, and The Peak managed to speak to Executive Chef Sebastien Lepinoy to uncover what this win means to him.
Executive Chef Sebastien Lepinoy.
On being listed in Singapore’s first-ever Michelin Guide.
I am honoured and humbled to be included in the first-ever edition of the Michelin Guide in Singapore. To be recognised by a guide that is so internationally well-known as well as accepted as a reliable barometer for dining standards is tremendously satisfying; it gives the assurance that the amount of effort and hard work put in by us at Les Amis is, indeed, appreciated. To be among one of the few restaurants to receive not just one but two stars is also an incredible honour, and I feel very grateful to the Michelin panel for recognising my cuisine and what it stands for. This was a very important moment for me – the sheer amount of happiness, pride and gratitude that I felt at that point of time is something that will not be easily forgotten even in the years to come.
On overcoming challenges and finding inspiration.
One of the main challenges that I faced was when I first arrived in Singapore three years ago. Besides having to adapt to an entirely new environment, I was unsure of how receptive Singaporeans would be to my cuisine, and how I could best adapt it to suit the fine-dining scene in Singapore while still maintaining my own style of classic French cooking. I travel quite a fair bit and, during my trips, I like to check out the F&B scene overseas for inspiration. I’m always on the lookout for new ingredients that I can use for my creations. As for personal cooking philosophies, mine would be to respect the natural form and taste of the ingredients, as well as the traditions and techniques of classic French cooking. At Les Amis, I work directly with Paris-based Kaviari to create an exquisite recipe of caviar that is only available at our restaurant. This roe comes from the acipenser schrenckii or dauricus schrencki sturgeon, and is favoured by top chefs around the world. It’s plump, briny, buttery and creates a nice pop, which ends off with a clean finish in the mouth –so, it’s no surprise as to why many of our customers love it.
Exciting developments in the world of fine dining.
The diversity of the fine-dining scene today is much greater compared to the past. We are lucky to have three Michelin-starred restaurants offering varying types of cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, European… You can even find different types of interpretations for each cuisine ranging from classic to innovative.
Must-have kitchen tools
Good butter, preferably from France. One of the most coveted gems that Les Amis boasts is the artisanal Le Ponclet butter. It’s made from a near-extinct breed of cows in Brittany and only served in less than 20 restaurants around the world.
Cooking at home
I prefer to cook for my wife, and one of the dishes I often prepare is French roast chicken with confit potatoes.
When I was 18, my family encouraged me to leave home to work for a Michelin-starred restaurant and it was the best thing that I ever did. I encourage younger chefs to do same at least once in their lifetimes, because the learning experience you acquire is entirely different.
(Excerpt taken from The Peak Malaysia November 2016. All photos by Les Amis.)