Chef Michael Michaelidis has been with some of the most celebrated restaurants around the world. They include the two-Michelin-star Palme d’Or at Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez, three-Michelin-star Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse in Monte Carlo, and Spoon By Alain Ducasse in Hong Kong where he contributed to the restaurant’s second Michelin star.
He joined the Joël Robuchon family in 2011, as Chef de Cuisine of three Michelin-star L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong. Two years later, he moved to Singapore to oversee both Joël Robuchon restaurant and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, with him helming the former.
This year, Joël Robuchon restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars for the second year running, and remains the only 3-star Michelin restaurant in Singapore. We posed 12 questions to Chef Michaelidis to find out the secrets behind his illustrious career.
1. You started off as an apprentice in your aunt’s fine dining restaurant in The Netherlands. What was it like?
I was 14 years old then, and the restaurant was next to a river. I remember cycling to the lakeside to pick fresh aromatic herbs, as well as making daily trips to the fresh market to collect the day’s produce. All the flowers, vegetables, bread, seafood were extremely fresh, and were prepared only a few hours before the restaurant opened to maintain optimal freshnes.
2. You oversee both Joël Robuchon Restaurant (JRR) and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (AJR). How different is it to lead these two restaurants?
Not all that different. Both restaurants were awarded Michelin stars so my target is to maintain consistent quality in our menu and good feedback from guests. Customers are looking for a unique culinary experience when they visit us so it’s our job to ensure a memorable visit. We train our team every day to challenge them and turn them into next-generation chefs.
3. What are some of the biggest challenges of leading JRR as Executive Chef?
Coming up with new dishes and adapting our recipe to the Asian palate.
4. Apart from talent, what else does it take to be a chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant?
Stay humble and flexible to guests’ requests. It has always been my pleasure to make people happy when they visit the restaurant.
5. What’s your favourite ingredient/s to work with.
Spices. It’s amazing how we can mix and match them with our cuisine to create new flavours and sensory experiences.
6. What’s your favourite food?
Greek and Mediterranean cuisine because I spent my childhood fishing and diving in Greece.
7. What’s your favourite Singapore dish?
Mee Goreng. I love the spices used in the dish.
8. Is there anything you wouldn’t eat?
I’m very open-minded and adventurous when it comes to food. There is nothing I wouldn’t eat.
9. What do you do outside of work?
I enjoy trying out new restaurants and travelling the world to experience different cultures and new food.
10. If you’re not a Chef, what would you work as?
I would probably become a captain of a ship because I enjoy boating and fishing.
11. How do you feel about JRR being awarded 3 Michelin stars for two years in a row?
I am very proud of the team for again making JRR the only 3-star Michelin restaurant in Singapore. It shows that our hard work is being recognised.
12. How do you intend to celebrate this win with your team?
We took a group photo to commemorate our win and we are planning a celebratory dinner in town.