SINGAPORE - One-Michelin-starred modern European restaurant Corner House at the Singapore Botanic Gardens announced its new chef on Monday (March 23) - Bordeaux-born chef David Thien, formerly of the now-defunct French restaurant Shelter in the Woods.
He takes over the reins as executive chef from departing chef-patron Jason Tan on Wednesday, whose last day of service is March 31.
Tan, 38, has been synonymous with Corner House since it opened in 2014. Under him, the fine dining restaurant serving contemporary gastro-botanica cuisine has been on both the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list and Michelin Guide for the past four years. In 2016, it debuted on the Asia's 50 Best list at No. 17 and is currently ranked No. 49.
Corner House's owner Renny Heng calls Tan an "invaluable asset". He says: "Through his guidance, the restaurant has retained its status as a one-Michelin-starred restaurant, and (been on the) Asia's 50 Best list for four consecutive years."
In a phone interview, Tan tells The Straits Times that he will be embarking on his own restaurant venture in Singapore. The yet-to-be-named fine dining restaurant is slated to open in July.
However, should the current Covid-19 situation fail to improve, he is prepared to delay the launch. He says: "After almost six successful years at Corner House, it's time for me to start my own restaurant. I'm very excited, this is a dream for any chef."
Thien, a 39-year-old permanent resident who has been based in Singapore since 2007, plans to introduce a new menu in May. He says: "It will take some time to understand how the team works, as well as guest expectations. Corner House is an established powerhouse. It carries a legacy and I do not want to simply brush that away.
"I'm excited, yet worried, because this new challenge comes with a lot of expectations."
Mr Heng, who first crossed paths with Thien in 2012 when they co-founded Shelter in the Woods, says: "David is one of the very few chefs I sincerely respect for his exceptional culinary skills. This coming chapter will bring together what Corner House and David do best, which is to employ French techniques with an Asian influence to create a meal that is textural, flavourful and unforgettable."
A gastronomic collaboration is already planned for the fourth quarter of this year (2020) - an eight-hands dinner with chefs Julien Royer of the three-Michelin-starred Odette, chef Alain Herber of Tiong Bahru Bakery, and chef Frederic Colin of Brasserie Gavroche.
This is the first time diners will get a taste of the culinary skills of these four chefs - who have been long-time friends since they first met 15 years ago at The St Regis Bora Bora. The quartet were also the opening team for The St Regis Singapore.
Corner House marks Thien's return to his fine dining background. After Shelter in the Woods, he worked at the likes of homegrown luxury tea brand TWG Tea and members club Straits Clan.
At these previous positions, Thien says that he was always made to follow a concept or "restrictive price point". "I couldn't really generate the full content of who I am as a chef," he says, "Now I can really showcase my cooking".
- Corner House at Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, opens noon to 2pm (Tuesdays to Fridays), 11.30am to 2pm (weekends), 6.30 to 9pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on Mondays. For more information, call 6469-1000 or go to the Corner House website.