The team comes together one last time as they prepare for the final service at Restaurant Andre.
The Last Supper
After a decade of success, Restaurant Andre hosted a final dinner
Restaurant Andre, located in Singapore, has been one of the highest rated and most desired reservations for much of the past ten years. On February 14, 2018 they served their last menu. The founder, Chef Andre Chiang, plans to move back to his birthplace, Taiwan, and will pursue the next stage in his life, which at this point remains something of a mystery. His interviews would indicate he plans to pursue educating young Asian chef wannabes but no concrete plans were let known. One thing is for sure and that is that Chef Andre will be active in the food world for many years to come.
I was fortunate enough to get to spend several days at Restaurant Andre during their final days. His final menu consisted of 28 dishes. Many of which I photographed and will share in a future post. His original plan was to have 40 dishes but then realized that it may not be humanly possible to consume that much food in one sitting.
The final day of service began like any other day. Staff arrived in the morning and began preparations for that day’s service. The front of house team set out preparing the dining room while the kitchen crew began their food prep. Like a well oiled machine everyone knew their role and what they needed to do.
Preparations for the evening service are set in motion by the wait staff as soon as they arrive for work. With great precision and efficiency they make sure every aspect aspect of the dining room is in perfect order.
Restaurant Andre’s dining room sits ready for its last guests.
As the front of house team went about their tasks the kitchen crew was hard at work as well. The kitchen was a surprisingly quiet place. There was no yelling, no heavy clanging of pots and pans and very little talk. When team members did speak it was in a volume just loud enough to hear. It was not a somber environment but one of great concentration. Everyone knew what he or she needed to do and they just set about to complete each task. No one made a big deal about my presence and although I did my best to stay out of the way I always seemed to be in the way. The kitchen was small so anyone there that doesn’t belong there is going to disrupt the work flow. And despite my constant dodging and weaving and expressions like “pardon me” or “sorry” or “let me get out of your way” the team never outwardly showed any anger towards my presence. I suppose they knew that this was the last service and understood why I was there and simply considered me part of the final service.
Chef Andre Chiang works with his kitchen team preparing for the evening menu
The amount of prep work that goes into each and every dish keeps everyone in the kitchen focussed on their various tasks.
On this final day of operation they did not have a lunch service but instead had a staff lunch party in which the entire team stopped what they were doing and joined together for a nice big lunch. In addition to the Restaurant Andre team there were also media invited from a variety of Singaporean news outlets. At the conclusion of the lunch the entire staff joined together for final group portrait. Spirits were actually pretty high at this time. Everyone just seemed to be enjoying the moment.
As they all enjoyed what would be their last staff meal together their spirits remained high as they joined for one final team portrait.
The person probably the most upset about the restaurant’s closure was Andre’s wife, Pam. Restaurant Andre had been a big part of her life for much of the past ten years. She had grown close to the staff and thinks of them all as her children. During the press conference she sat alone on the stairs, listening to questions and Andre’s answers while wiping away her tears.
Following the departure of the media it was time for the final pre-service briefing. The mood was heavy in the room. The end was near and many in the room didn’t want this restaurant to close. For some it meant the end of their jobs and an uncertain future. Chef Andre did his best to keep the topic positive and encouraging.
During the final pre-service briefing the team gathered and listened quietly as they all knew this was soon to be their last service at Restaurant Andre.
With all the tables set and the food ready for final cooking and plating all that was needed was a house full of guests. As each guest arrived they were guided to the top floor, which is actually the restaurant’s office, to watch the same movie that had been shown the visiting media earlier in the day. At the conclusion They were then guided down a flight of stairs in which the walls on the stairwell were covered with photos and memories from the staff displaying the many happy moments they all shared together.
For Andre the rest of the evening was divided between welcoming guests, over seeing final cooking of dishes, making sure each food item was properly plated, and then heading back to the dining room to chat with guests. The amount of energy the man puts out is really quite remarkable. And at the end of it all he still didn’t look tired.
All evening Andre would travel back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room. He would patiently go from table to table chatting and joking with each of his guests.
With the last dish sent out of the kitchen it was time for Andre to remove his apron and fold it up for the last time.
A final embrace with his talented and dedicated executive chef, Aor Tan
A final look at his beloved Restaurant Andre in Singapore. Soon Andre would be relocating to Taiwan, the island of his birth.