Beginnings are curious phenomena. The moment of genesis is hardly precise. But for Chef André Chiang of Restaurant André, beginnings are marked by ink on paper. This is where ideas go airbourne, where dishes are born.
For Chiang, doodling is no child's play. The act of sketching his menu is an exercise in flavour pairing. "You can see how many components there are, how each flavour is linked to the other," says Chiang. Visualising each dish, stroke by stroke, is also a means of harmonising the trajectory of each ingredient on the plate. "It helps you to balance the quantity of each component and imagine where the guest will start, how he will start, and how he will work through the dish."
Evolution, it seems, is a mainstay of the menu. While many chefs speak of crafting their menus around the seasons, Chiang's notion of seasonality drills down to the passage of each day. "Just as how there is no exact cut-off day between spring and summer, the seasons change gradually. Likewise, the ingredients that come to us also change gradually. Our menu is seasonal in that it responds to the seasons, but it can really change daily at any time," Chiang explains.
If you're booking in for a meal at Restaurant André anytime soon, you're in for a treat. As Europe segues from winter to spring, the menu at André's dutifully transcribes this movement onto the plate. "There is still a touch of earthiness from winter, but we are starting to see a lot of greens, and flavours and textures that are grassy, bright and bitter," Chiang reveals.