Travel 4 minutes 02 July 2019

French Chef Anne-Sophie Pic Puts Singapore Touches in Her Asian Debut

The debut Asian venture of Pic of the three-MICHELIN-starred Maison Pic in France features many Asian flavors in French dishes.

Singapore new opening French cuisine

Acclaimed French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, who helms the three-MICHELIN-starred Maison Pic in Valence, France, is deepening her love for Asian ingredients with her latest restaurant, La Dame de Pic, which opens in Singapore's famed—and newly restored—Raffles Hotel on July 5. La Dame de Pic is the first celebrity restaurant to open in the historic luxury hotel, which will be fully opened to the public on August 1 after an extensive year-and-a-half refurbishment.

The chic 46-seat restaurant features pastel pink walls, plum-colored seating and vases of peonies, which is Pic’s favorite flower. Also reflecting this is the tall ceiling, which is adorned with peony-designed bas-relief. In the heart of the restaurant is a visually arresting gold chandelier composed of cascading discs designed with spades, which is a play on the restaurant’s name that translates to “queen of spade” in English.

Cuisine-wise, her contemporary French dishes are imbued with light, bright and citrus flavors, and peppered with herbs and flowers.

The interior features pastel pink walls, vases of peonies and a peony-adorned wall. (Photo by Kenneth Goh.)
The interior features pastel pink walls, vases of peonies and a peony-adorned wall. (Photo by Kenneth Goh.)

Speaking to the MICHELIN Guide Digital last week, Pic calls her third La Dame de Pic restaurant—the first two are in Paris and London—her most feminine restaurant yet. After cooking for 25 years, she has become more confident in expressing her personality and touch through her restaurants and food.

“Over the years, European cuisine has evolved to become more feminine too; more chefs are thinking about fragrance and using flowers these days,” she says. Pic believes that this shift is due to the growing influence of Asian food culture among French chefs that has facilitated a harmonious coexistence between classic French cuisine and culinary cultures in the East.

The Singapore edition of Pic's signature Berlingots are loaded with molten French fondue cheese and served in a green zebra tomato and herb-of-grace consommé. (Photo by Kenneth Goh.)
The Singapore edition of Pic's signature Berlingots are loaded with molten French fondue cheese and served in a green zebra tomato and herb-of-grace consommé. (Photo by Kenneth Goh.)

Eighty Percent of La Dame de Pic Dishes Are New

Pic is no stranger to Asian ingredients and flavors, being known to incorporate them into French dishes. At a recent media luncheon, Asian influences, mainly herbs and spices, are liberally sprinkled and infused in her dishes.

At La Dame de Pic in Singapore, about 80% of the dishes are new, with half of them with Asian touches. Her signature dish, Berlingots, which are pyramid-shaped matcha-flavored pasta and named after the French hard caramel candy, have an exclusive-to-Singapore flavor. The pasta parcels are stuffed with molten French fondue cheese and drenched in a vegetal and tangy consommé concocted with green zebra tomato and herb-of-grace (a medicinal herb known as chou cao in Chinese) that is found in markets here.

Prices for the lunch menus start from $128++ (USD94) and dinner menus start from $198++ (USD146).

La Dame De Pic_Raffles Hotel Singapore_Kenneth Goh_2.jpeg
Besides flavors, Pic is also inspired by local food designs. One of the starters is honeycomb cookies (kuih rose) dressed up with edible flowers (left).

The idea was sparked by chef de cuisine Kevin Gatin, who has been Pic’s protégé for more than eight years and worked at Pic’s two-MICHELIN-starred restaurant in Lausanne. He toyed with the idea after he came across the mould at the hotel’s Chinese kitchen, which is located next to the La Dame de Pic Kitchen.

The duo has been hard at work developing dishes with newfangled flavor and aroma combinations over the past few months. Gatin spent a month at Maison Pic’s research kitchen in Valance, bringing luggage filled with ingredients from Singapore.

“We had such an amazing time creating flavors and infusions," she recounts. "I learned about chou cao, which tastes similar to asperula, a herb from my universe, and I like ginger flower so much that I’ve made a cream with it for the white mille-feuille. Some of these ingredients are still ‘sleeping’ but we will integrate them in the menu soon.”

Deepening Her Love For Asian Flavors 

Having a restaurant in Singapore has deepened Pic’s love for Asian herbs and spices. During her week-long stay in the Lion City, she visited the wet market in Chinatown twice, immersing herself in the sights and scents of the bustling vegetable stalls.

“I’ve been waking up early to go to the market,” she says with a sheepish smile. “When I am there, I am just taking photos of all the vegetables, absorbing the sights and buying a lot of products.” She also managed to take in the heady spice aromas at Anthony Spice Maker shop in Chinatown and checking out spices such as cinnamon, yellow ginger and galangal. With rapid-fire creativity, she has already made sorbets and syrups from these spices.

It is the same whenever and wherever Pic travels. “I will always go to the markets to search and buy new products, so much that my husband can be fed up,” she says. Her husband, David Sinapian, is the chief executive of the Pic group of restaurants comprised of 10 eateries and a cooking school, and employs around 350 staff.

The couple, who has been married for more than two decades, first met when they attended ISG Business School in Paris. It was during their student days when they first visited the Raffles Hotel in 1990 for afternoon tea. Pic says that she will visit her Singapore outpost as often as she can to get in touch with more Asian ingredients.

Other upcoming celebrity restaurant openings in the hotel include Chinese restaurant yì by Jereme Leung, which is slated to open in August, while BBR by Alain Ducasse is scheduled to open in September.

These days, Sinapian takes care of the business side of things, while Pic takes charge of the creative department. When asked about La Dame de Pic’s place in a competitive dining landscape filled with French restaurants, Pic says: “Part of the restaurant’s stand-out point is its historic location in Raffles Hotel, but I also hope to complement Singapore’s dining offerings with my style.”
Chef Anne-Sophie Pic 2.jpg

Doing It Her Way to Preserve the Pic Family Legacy

Pic has also carved an unconventional route to the kitchen. She was born into a long lineage of accomplished chefs—her grandfather André led Maison Pic to three MICHELIN stars in 1934 and her father Jacques worked his way to regain the three-MICHELIN-star distinction.

However, Pic did not harbor dreams of becoming a chef and opted to study business management instead. During an internship, a colleague asked her why she wanted to work there when she could head the family brand. That planted the idea of working in her family’s restaurant and she eventually took over the reins in 1997.

Asked about what is her proudest contribution to her family’s culinary history, which started in 1889, Pic points out that how each generation 

has innovated and pushed the restaurant forward. “It is important not to rely on traditional dishes and history," she says. "Though it is important to respect the cuisine and history, I think about how to keep my techniques up-to-date and improve them. Improving ingredients and techniques help to bring my cuisine further.”

And it helps that Pic’s 13-year-old son Nathan has a keen interest in cooking—especially in pastry. However, she is keeping her options open on if she would like her son to join the family business. “It is too early to say, but I will definitely want to teach him about cuisine and pass him my knowledge.”


Keep Exploring - Stories we think you will enjoy reading