5 Questions with 3-Michelin Star Chef Sebastien Lepinoy
Director of Culinary & Operations, Les Amis Restaurant, Singapore
Behind every great chef is someone who is uncompromising in his dedication and passion to his craft, and to the perfection of every single dining experience dished out to guests. Chef Sebastien Lepinoy is just such a person, having been in esteemed culinary circles since 1990.
We are very honoured and proud to have Chef Lepinoy in this guest interview, and hope to present you with a good read of his luminary career to date!
Chef Lepinoy came to our shores armed with a deep wealth of knowledge and technical culinary skills, having built up a remarkable career of transforming restaurants into notable award-winning establishments. Chef Lepinoy’s uncompromising dedication and drive in delivering memorable dining experiences to all his guests has not only earned him several MICHELIN stars, this has also been recognised by established institutions such as World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and Forbes Travel Guide.
Drawing from pure Parisian haute cuisine, Chef Lepinoy’s collection of recipes features a plethora of prized seasonal ingredients sourced from all over France, and prepared with great finesse and a high level of technicality. As the Director of Culinary & Operations at the 3 MICHELIN Star Les Amis Restaurant, Singapore, Chef Lepinoy continues to push boundaries in creating unique dishes that leave lasting impressions on his guests. Chef Lepinoy positions himself as guardian of the French Culinary Arts in Asia – an individual who is dedicated to preserving and passing on the mastery of French gastronomy to budding cooks and chefs. (You will read more of Chef Lepinoy’s thoughts on this in the interview below.)
Let us now dive into the 5 Questions he has so kindly agreed to answer for us, and for you, fine dining lovers, friends and followers!
1. What dishes in your recent past/present menus have been particularly satisfying for you to create and why?
My signature Potato Salad is one such dish. The potato salad is a dish that I created a long time back, yet I enjoy the challenge of making something seemingly simple sublime.
This focus of this dish is our Les Amis “Reserve” Caviar. Inspired by the classic condiments that complement caviar (i.e Blinis, onions, sour cream, crème Fraiche), this dish contains those very elements and elevates it to the next level.
It has evolved since I first introduced it in 2011.
2. How do you consistently come up with the unique and wonderful of the season’s ingredients to use in the design of your menu? Do you continue to source for new ingredients? Is there also an ingredient you’d like to work with that you have not cooked with before?
My style is pure French haute cuisine. Hence, I focus on French seasonality, with more than 90% of my ingredients hailing from France.
The products that we fly in are already superb. Nonetheless, I am always open should I discover something even more amazing than our current repertoire of ingredients.
3. Running and managing a three-Michelin star restaurant like Les Amis is all-consuming. What motivates you each day, where does inspiration come from? When you speak with and meet young culinary students in the culinary schools and academies that you work with, what do you impart to them to inspire them?
I love being a Chef, and being passionate about the job is a great motivation to keep you going. I make it a point to be around during lunch and dinner service 6 days a week. If I am not in the kitchen, you will find me at the various culinary and hospitality schools (i.e. EHL, ITE, At-Sunrice, CIA, TP etc) speaking to the students.
Nothing in life comes easy, you have to work for it. It is important to always challenge and re-calibrate ourselves to strive for the next goal. For me, I always call it the “4 Michelin Star”. Although the 4th star doesn’t exist, it should continuously be in our hearts and minds so that we will continue to strive for excellence in order to deliver an exceptional and unique dining experience to all our guests.
I try my best to pass on this ethos to all the students that join us for an internship. I share with them the importance of working hard and working smart.
During every session, I will talk about the importance of developing a sound Business Plan. Passion and culinary/hospitality skills are not the only important things when it comes to operating a successful restaurant. The most important factor is developing a comprehensive and well-thought-out Business Plan.
My role, as a mentor, is not only to inspire but to share with them my own journey that is filled with ups and downs. We work very closely with all the culinary and hospitality schools in Singapore, to groom the next generation of F&B personalities. I am a strong advocate of grooming the next generation of hospitality students.
4. Tell us a little about the time when you used to work in Macau…what was that market and experience like compared to Singapore, and Singapore dining?
Hong Kong, like Singapore, is very dynamic with affluent diners who have an adventurous palate.
5. Five things we’d like to know about Chef Sebastien:
– Any favourite Singaporean food/dishes after being here 8 years?
– Favourite pastime besides cooking?
– Favourite sport/s to watch, and play? If not sport, some other interest? Favourite thing to do with your family?
I love spending time with my family. My wife and I love to eat, so we enjoy sharing a meal together.
Every Sunday, I make it a point to bring my daughter out for a Father-Daughter date.
– Any favourite other cuisine besides French? What else do you cook?
At home, my wife calls the shots when it comes to cooking. She is an excellent Chef, specialising in Korean cuisine.
– Favourite ‘something else’ that you might like to share…travel destination, holiday spot, etc.?
I’ve always enjoyed travelling. Before when it was just my wife and I, we would travel to various countries/cities in search of good food. It was like our Michelin Starred pilgrimage hahaha!
On top of that, I will always return to France on a yearly basis to visit my family and meet with my producers.
Now that I have my own family, we would also make it a point to travel to Korea, and spend quality time with my wife’s family. It is important for my daughter to get to know her French and Korean roots.
– What new developments can your guests look forward to when they dine at Les Amis?
We have something in the pipeline that we are working on. I will definitely share more details later.
As you can see, Chef Lepinoy has made it his mission to nurture and mentor budding talent in the Food & Beverage scene. It therefore comes as no surprise that many of his protégés graduated to work in internationally renowned restaurants.
Thank you Chef Lepinoy! It has been so interesting for us to have this interview with you, and we’re sure all who read this will enjoy it too! Your far-reaching and illustrious career makes you an inspiration to us all!
This article and interview is licensed by TripNTravel Marketing Services Singapore and first published at www.tripntravelms.com/news-views