Executive head chef Tristin Farmer presides over the restaurant, housed in a charming three-storey shophouse on Bukit Pasoh Road. Hailing from Scotland, Farmer honed his culinary skills working through the ranks at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants in the United Kingdom, such as Claridges, Petrus and three-MICHELIN-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea.
In 2014, he joined Jason Atherton’s The Social Company, working at Pollen Street Social and City Social in London before making his first forays overseas with the pre-opening of Aberdeen Street Social in Hong Kong and Marina Social in Dubai. In late 2018, Farmer arrived in Singapore to helm Zén, a partnership between Frantzen and home-grown hospitality group Unlisted Collection.
What was your first encounter with the MICHELIN Guide?
I’ve worked at MICHELIN-starred restaurants for forever now, but I remember the first time I dined at a one-starred restaurant, I didn’t understand what MICHELIN was. Later I started to learn more about it and have many encounters since then. I remember the first inspection we had, I remember the first awards, buying the books and things like that. It’s been a long way since being a kid working in a MICHELIN-starred restaurant.
How did you feel when it was announced that Zén received two MICHELIN stars?
Because we were one hour late, Björn (Frantzén) kept texting me, asking, “What’s happening? It should have been announced an hour ago”. Obviously, I knew after they had already announced the one-starred restaurants, that it was either going to be very bad news or very good news (laughs). It was very humbling, we are very humbled.
The inspection season was coming to an end maybe about May or June and we’d barely been open six months then. We didn’t have any expectations, honestly. We’re blown away by tonight. We wanted to come to Singapore and do our thing. We cook really good food. It’s all about the ingredients, it’s all about the customers. And it feels really good to get this recognition. We didn’t come looking for stars. We came here to cook really good food, for people to come to our house and have a great time. That’s what we do every day and every service we try to do better.
How are you going to celebrate?
Actually, we’re going back to the restaurant and we’ve ordered pizzas for 12 o’clock. We’re having pizzas and Krug champagne at 12 o’clock with the whole team.
I’ve been part of a lot of MICHELIN-starred restaurants and seen many chefs receiving awards and things, but for me to be standing here now is very humbling. Seeing happy guests and having a full restaurant is the number one motivation but getting recognition like this… I’m super happy for the team because they put in so much every day. There’s so much training and so much hard work from all the guys there.
What advice do you have for younger chefs?
Don’t chase stars. Just do what you believe in. Cook the food that you believe is right. Make food delicious, make people happy and then you’ll get the rewards that you deserve.
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