01: GIVE ME LIFE – RAW, Taipei
The unit is in a cold, grey, square industrial building. A lifeless concrete block. The extreme absence of life and nature in the space made me want to inject what it lacks into it, and that was the starting point of the concept of RAW. It is about two seemingly opposing things: nature and craft. Finding a balance between leaving things as how nature intended, and how man wants to shape it – just as finding the balance between enjoying a raw ingredient and creating a dish that showcases the chef’s technique – that is the concept of Raw.”
We applied wood on the cement walls and peeled it off after it had dried, so that the wood left an imprint. The entire space resembles a cave carved out of 30 tonnes of mahogany (which is also used extensively in Restaurant Andre), hand-shaped so that there isn’t a single sharp angle, but has only fluid lines throughout. I want to make the diner feel like he or she is walking into a warm, inviting and natural space within this cold, grey box.”
–On creating latest F&B venture in Taipei, Taiwan, Raw, which officially opened in December 2014.
02: EARTH WIND FIRE – BURNT ENDS, Singapore
Originally, we wanted to do both Bincho and Burnt Ends within the space of Burnt Ends. But I later realised that it’s just not going to feel right. For the concept of Burnt Ends, I started by looking at the alleys around Teck Lim Road. It was at a point where the area was gaining momentum, with the opening of boutique hotels, and I felt it had very good energy and an edginess to it – I felt that the space needed energy, action, something that literally has fire in there. From fire I came to think of grills, which led me to the wood-fire barbecue concept.
– On the inspiration behind Burnt Ends, launched in May 2013.
03: ‘COURTISAN’ DREAMS – Porte 12, Paris
Before, it was an atelier where haute couture corsets were crafted, and it made me think a lot about French history and the genteel days of the past: how the people dressed, how they ate, the exquisiteness of Marie Antoinette, the crafts of the times. I wanted the space to have that elegant and detailed touch, but still be simple and modern, not over the top.
– On Parisian bistronomy-style restaurant Porte 12, launched in September 2014.