Ex-Robuchon chef to helm Singapore’s Bacchanalia, aims for two Michelin-stars

Ex-Robuchon chef to helm Singapore’s Bacchanalia, aims for two Michelin-stars
Former Robuchon chef, Vianney Massot (right) will take over from Australian chef Luke Armstrong as executive chef of one-Michelin-starred restaurant Bacchanalia. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Aug 9 — One-starred Michelin restaurant Bacchanalia will have a new chef at the helm from September and has set its sights on achieving a two-star rating under French chef Vianney Massot from the now-defunct L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

Chef Massot, 26, will take over the reins from Australian Luke Armstrong, 31.

But before that, the restaurant at Hongkong Street will close for at least two weeks beginning September 1 to undergo a facelift, said Bacchanalia’s owner Lim Kian Chun.

Lim told reporters yesterday that while the restaurant will strive to keep prices “competitive” and “affordable”, it is only “natural” that prices will increase gradually in its endeavour to earn two Michelin stars.

Currently, three-course lunch menus and four-course dinner sets at Bacchanalia start from around S$50 (RM150) and S$150, respectively.

“We will still keep prices competitive whether or not this is sustainable, I don’t know. But if we are pushing for two stars then prices will definitely have to increase — gradually of course — but for a start, we want to keep prices friendly,” said Lim, 26, co-founder of the Ebb and Flow Group.

The company took over the management of Bacchanalia in January this year and currently co-owns and operates a stable of businesses including Hou Hou, a food stall in PasarBella Suntec, and a capsule hotel chain with branches in Little India and Bugis.

Lim declined to reveal how much the revamp will cost but said diners can look forward to a more intimate setting with more comfortable arrangements, as the seating capacity will be reduced from 28 to 25.

The restaurant will get a fresh paint job, additional wine fridges and, possibly, a “chef’s table” to facilitate conversations with diners, Lim added.

Asked if the change in chef could affect its Michelin star rating — which it recently earned for the third year in a row — Lim said that he has no concerns given Chef Massot’s pedigree.

Prior to running the kitchen of the two-Michelin-starred L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon at Resorts World Sentosa, Chef Massot spent nine years working under culinary great Joel Robuchon, who died from cancer on Aug 6 at the age of 73.

Before arriving in Singapore, Chef Massot worked at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Robuchon Au Dome in Macau.

He will be supported by Bacchanalia’s team of sous chefs, kitchen assistants and staff. “(Our) team is still here and they will support Vianney as well, they are all very talented. With the right support structure I think you will have fantastic food,” said Lim. 

Chef Armstrong — who will be heading to Tokyo — said both he and Chef Massot place great attention on quality produce.

“We are not a restaurant serving avant-garde or molecular gastronomy food, we’re a restaurant serving the best of seasonal produce, and that is where our passions are very much the same,” he said. “I can assure you that there will be some good cooking under Chef Vianney.”

Chef Massot will bring to the table his expertise in French cuisine and techniques he picked up from the late Robuchon.

News of the closure in June of Joel Robuchon Restaurant, Singapore’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars, and its sister outlet L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, shocked the food and beverage industry here.

Chef Massot paid tribute to his “greatest teacher and mentor” yesterday.

“I am very grateful, especially, (to have worked) side-by-side him in his laboratory (kitchen) and followed him around the world,” he said of the late Robuchon, who was named the “chef of the century” by the Gault et Millau cooking guide in 1990.

“I learned about his vision (for food) and techniques, his culinary methods were always far in advance (of) any other chef. He dedicated his life to the kitchen, he was a perfectionist and he pushed me to be better and better every day.”

Chef Massot said he did not know about his mentor’s illness. “He is like a Papa. He needs to know what is going on with all of his staff, whether they are suffering, but he never let us know if he is the one suffering,” he said. — TODAY

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