Top Of The Town: Interview with Julien Royer of Jaan
Published 28 March 2012
FRV Travel heads to the top of Singapore Swissotel’s The Stamford to dine at JAAN and chat with Chef de Cuisine and Frenchman, Julien Royer, about what, apart from the location, keeps the restaurant at the top of the Singapore food chain.
Text by Thomas Jones
FRV: Late nights, abusive shouting and stressfully hot working environments define your line of work. How did you come to choose the cut throat world of haute cuisine to make a crust?
Julien: It was my upbringing that really defined my choice of work and culinary philosophy today as I was born into a fourth generation family of farmers. I learnt to respect the idea of carefully grown vegetables and raising animals humanely from a very young age. Through this I learnt the value and the beauty of seasonally grown produce.
FRV: Where did you train and under whose influence did you fall?
Julien: I was trained by Chef Bernard Andrieux in his Michelin-starred restaurant, where he taught me true cuisine values which were all about working to extol the best flavours out of the finest ingredients available. He specifically, had a profound influence on me, reinforcing the beliefs of my upbringing and emphasizing the importance of the purity of ingredients in every dish I create. Another great influence is Michel Bras, with whom I also worked with in Laguiole in France.
FRV: What are the main demands you place on your ingredients and kitchen?
Julien: For me, the ingredients are really the stars of every dish so I use cooking as a vehicle to extract the best possible flavours from those that I source. It is all about knowing where your product comes from, how it has been raised, grown or caught and ultimately respecting these ingredients when you present them in a dish. I like to source organic vegetables and meat from animals which have been raised humanely; seasonal products, line-caught fish and so on. I like to use small volume producers that deliver quality products and
95 % of my produce is sourced from artisan producers and almost 50% of the produce is organic.
I learnt to respect the idea of carefully grown vegetables and raising animals humanely from a very young age.
FRV: It’s tough to take over at the helm of such an esteemed establishment. What was the defining thing that you brought to JAAN that made the difference?
Julien: My artisanal menu at JAAN is a clear reflection of my culinary philosophy. I am devoted to sourcing the very best products from the most discerning suppliers around the world. I believe in celebrating and respecting seasonal produce, terroir and the skills of the world’s best gourmet producers. Cooking is a vehicle to extract the best possible flavours from the finest produce that I source and then sharing it with my customers.
FRV: Who makes up the bulk of your clientele?
Julien: Most of our clientele are discerning epicureans who really appreciate great food and wine. They are seasoned travellers who have dined at some of the best restaurants around the world.
FRV: The dishes and wines seem as intimate as lovers. How closely do you work with your sommeliers when working out a menu?
Julien: I have a very good relationship with our head sommelier, Mathias Negro, who has great experience and an illustrious background. We like to share experiences, specifically about what we both taste in the dishes prepared, and this helps a lot in wine pairing for the menu. We have a carefully selected list of nearly 500 different labels from the Old World and New World that complements well with the ingredients in my dishes.
FRV: And finally, the restaurant is rather minimalist in design but please tell us about the magnificent chandelier that takes centre stage?
Julien: The ornate interior of JAAN features a stunning Murano crystal and silver free-form chandelier that spans the entire length of the ceiling. It’s an elegant representation of sea waves that complements the restaurant’s panoramic and enthralling sea view. The beauty of the chandelier is only outdone by two things – the breathtaking vista of Singapore’s scenic landscape and the truly exquisite culinary experience that has become the hallmark of this multi-award winning restaurant.