No Bounderies For This Taiwanese Top Chef
A Chinese Culinary Creator – André Chiang's New Position
"Many Taiwanese restaurants have been expanding their business to Mainland China or other countries. This does not mean they are betraying Taiwan," said Sandra Lee, Vice President of Marketing of Hasmore Ltd. Restaurant Group.
A Chinese Culinary Creator – André Chiang's New PositionBy Yu-Jie Wu
On October 10th, Taiwanese chef André Chiang declared his decision to close Restaurant André Singapore in 2018, and return his restaurant’s two stars to the Michelin Guide. A month later, he unveiled his new project in China, “The Bridge Chengdu” during the "Interpreting Sichuan Flavor Forum" held in Chengdu. In his introduction video, he expressed the goal of The Bridge x André Chiang of exploring the DNA of Sichuan Cuisine, integrating a local flavor, and taking Sichuan Cuisine to global heights.
“This time, Chiang is working with The Bridge Chengdu as its creative and culinary director. This mode of collaboration resembles his previous experience in JAAN par André, Singapore,”said Sandra Lee, Vice President of Marketing of Hasmore Ltd. Restaurant Group. “It will not be a restaurant started on his own.”
Working With China Does Not Mean Betraying Taiwan
“Many Taiwanese restaurants have been expanding their business to Mainland China or other countries, which does not mean they don’t love Taiwan,” said Lee. “In fact, this is what makes us appreciate our homeland even more. ”She has long seen Chiang as a hard-working chef, who used to be out of the spotlight of the media. “Now I’m glad that the restaurant industries are finally getting the attention they deserve. We discuss, we improve, and we will continue to forge ahead.”
Chiang, quoted by a post on The Bridge’s Weixin public platform on November 14th, expressed his hopes of “sharing his first-hand experiences in the international restaurant business, his philosophy as a chef, and his dream of brining Sichuan cooking to the world."
“This is not only about starting a Chinese cuisine restaurant. I want to reset my understanding of the local culture in China, respect what the local nature gives me, and repay it with the best flavor, which is, in contemporary culinary terms, the multidimensional experience of the ear, the eye, the palate, and the nostrils.” Furthermore, to uphold The Bridge’s spirit of reform and innovation, Chiang plans to “break the mold of the one dominant flavor and bring new possibilities to Sichuan cuisine.” In the premise of respecting the Nature and traditions, he aims to “go back to the start, decipher the DNA of the cuisine, and dive into the local culture and foods, to redefine the Sichuan flavor that belongs to this generation.”
Chiang's New Position: A Culinary, Chinese, Creative Artist
Hebe Ni, founder of The Bridge, pointed out that the idea of collaboration came from the grounds they share. “Chiang is convinced that Chinese cuisine holds an important place in the world, but gourmets around the world have not yet had a chance to appreciate the real taste of Sichuan cuisine's perfect harmony between the season and the foods.” Together, they are looking forward to placing the historical landmark – Anshun Bridge on the map of gastronomy.
Image: The Bridge
In the Slow Food International Congress 2017 held in September in Chengdu, Chiang delivered a speech titled “Chengdu Ingredients and the 24 Micro-Seasons.” As he mentioned in his speech, the Chinese culture of slow eating with the 24 micro-seasons is fading away from modern society. The 24 micro-season calendar, which condenses the wisdom of the past, embodies the balance of ‘Yin and Yang’ (the feminine and masculine aspects of Nature), and the traditional lifestyle of ‘eating with the season.’ To pass down this culture, Chiang proposed the goal of “making Chengdu the city of slow food,” emphasizing that he will devote himself to the promotion of slow food by pushing and inspiring more Chinese chefs, keeping in harmony with the Nature and seasons, and creating more delicious flavors of Nature in the future.
During the congress, Chiang was asked: “How do you identify yourself, other than a chef?”
First, he answered, “a culinary artist who has the ability to discover new ingredients that bring out the flavor of the land, no matter where he is.” Second, “a Chinese who would leave a Chinese imprint in all of his dishes, no matter what he makes.” Lastly, he identified himself as “a creative artist, who explores new ways of experiencing the good old tastes.”
Next Stop: Taichung?
In his statement on October 10th, Chiang mentioned his “new plans for 2018 and 2019.” After closing his restaurant in Singapore, he will return to his birthland and “devote all his strength to pass down his experience and knowledge to the younger generation in Taiwan and China, giving them a better environment and better training.”
For the time being, no plans for Taiwan were announced yet. However, according to some off-record information from other restaurant owners, Chiang is planning to start something new in Taichung.
Translated by Sharon Tseng.