This was certainly not chef-owner Ivan Brehm’s first brush with the stars. He honed his craft in the kitchens of Per Se in New York, Mugaritz in Spain’s Basque County, Hibiscus in London and spent four years at The Fat Duck working his way up to development chef of Heston Blumenthal’s Experimental Kitchen before arriving on Singapore shores in 2013 to head restaurant Bacchanalia.
While he originally had no intention of returning to Singapore, a fortuitous chat with prolific restaurateur Loh Lik Peng resulted in the opening of restaurant Nouri in 2017 in partnership with the Unlisted Collection. The restaurant to call his own was a culmination of all his global experiences, expressed in what he’s dubbed “crossroads cooking” — a style that draws inspirations from cuisines all over the world.
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He shares how he and his team celebrated their win that evening.
What was your first encounter with the MICHELIN Guide?
I honestly can’t remember. It seems like forever!
What was it like when your restaurant received a Michelin star for the first time?
It’s a great feeling. Winning the star felt like a great release as we have been doing a lot of work to be recognised. Nouri is a tiny place running on a shoestring budget, built on doing good. To know that it is working — that’s a wonderful feeling.
We partied hard. There was lots of dancing, eating, drinking and some serious hangovers.
How has the MICHELIN Guide impacted your career?
I guess, indirectly. The objectivity and quality assessment the guide attempts to provide help to drive the industry forward. Standards are improved and the idea that someone is watching keeps the industry in check and keeps the chef thorough.
What advice do you have for young chefs aiming for Michelin stars?
Stars are in the sky. Accolades and recognition are a by-product of objective work done well. The focus of a chef is and should forever be on cooking food for his guests and improving his relationships with his team of collaborators, staff, farmers and producers at large. If a star is what you want, then I’d say you are in the wrong business.