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9 Chefs to Watch as 2016 approaches

These chefs are set to make waves with their new restaurants.

01. Different As Night and Day: Beppe de Vito

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After Il Lido in Bali in April 2015, then Osteria Art in May, chef-restaurateur Beppe de Vito continues his aggressive expansion with upcoming venture Aura. This modern four-way dining concept located in National Gallery Singapore dishes out classics like grilled octopus with crispy egg and corn in the dining room, while the rooftop section a floor above holds a sky lounge that takes on different faces throughout the day: lunch offers a variety of salads and tartines, while a high-tea spread of pastries affords some sustenance for a mid-day break. At night, the sky lounge turns into a rooftop bar with cocktails, champagnes and European small plates. 1 Saint Andrew’s Road.

02. Gone Upscale: Daniel Sia

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Daniel Sia, executive chef and founder of The Disgruntled Chef at Dempsey, is celebrating its fifth anniversary by opening his second restaurant. The new TDC located in The Club hotel on Ann Siang Hill is an upscale version of the Dempsey branch, although it retains the familiar small- and big-plate sharing concept that Sia pioneered when he opened TDC in 2010. Expect new dishes like a Maine lobster and chicken pot roast – a fancy take on the usual surf & turf – paired with a wider selection of wines curated by group sommelier Shireen Sheikh, with succinct tasting notes for easy reading. Sia is also trying something new here: All his dishes will be plated in an Instagram-friendly fashion. Think ingredients laid flat out on the plate, bright colours and a play on negative spaces. 28 Ann Siang Road.

03. Fine Dining, Sans Sticker Shock: Andrew Walsh

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From heading Spanish tapas restaurant Esquina, Andrew Walsh – whose resume includes working for acclaimed English chef Tom Aikens – has branched out to set up his own restaurant, Cure. “Fine dining in a casual environment” is the concept behind his new establishment that serves up wholly made-fromscratch dishes in an environment where white table cloths and overhead chandeliers are replaced with low lighting and bare wooden table tops. “The idea came from sous chefs who had trained under Michelin-star names in the UK and France, and wanted to start their own place offering a taste of what they learnt, but without the frills of a big restaurant,” shares Walsh. His menu, which changes on the first week of every month, is primarily modern European cuisine, with a strong emphasis on season-driven produce, so you can expect strawberries in July and red cabbage or wild game like grouse in December. 21 Keong Saik Road.

04. Breaking Down Barriers: Ivan Brehm

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Ivan Brehm, head chef of Bacchanalia, has been winning award after award in the last two years, and he’s ready to help steer the restaurant to the next level. Formerly located in the iconic Masonic Hall, Bacchanalia will reopen in Hong Kong Street in mid-August 2015 with just 36 seats (compared to the previous 120), and no walls between the multiple kitchen counters and dining tables. Guests will be walked through the kitchen before being seated for their meal, so they can engage kitchen staff and see what goes on behind closed kitchen doors. “The new Bacchanalia is a living room, dining room and kitchen all in one,” describes Brehm. Look out for more sustainable local produce on their menu as well, like fish from a local aquaponics farm and garnish herbs from Bacchanalia’s garden on Coleman Street (they are maintaining the garden). 39 Hong Kong Street.

05. Make No Apologies: Bjorn Shen

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You can trust the devil-may-care chef and founder of ArtichokeBjorn Shen, to mash ingredients together and give them highly inappropriate names (that we dig). His latest concept, Bird Bird House of Thai Chicken, is slated to open in November. Details of the Ann Siang Hill location are still being firmed up, but the new 40-seater restaurant will serve the popular fried chicken skin sundae and Thai milk tea slushies that have made its rounds in various popups of late, as well as what Shen calls “the Schwarzenegger” of som tum – a jumbo platter of green papaya salad with crispy chicken skin, salted egg and fermented rice vermicelli. Don’t be surprised to see toilet roll on the tabletops or spelling mistakes on the menu. It’s all part of the restaurant’s unapologetic outlook.

06. Sandwich Breakthrough: Tan Huang Ming & Andrei Soen

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What started as a casual popup that led to stints at Savour proved so successful that chefs Tan Huang Ming (formerly from small-plates restaurant Lolla) and Andrei Soen (co-owner of The Cajun Kings), together with business partner Aamir Ghani, have since opened their brick-and-mortar store, Park Bench Deli. Think American-style sandwiches – generous with fillings and an emphasis on good bread. Tan and Soen have also brought their chef chops to the fore, as can be seen in the effort that goes into items like a fried chicken sandwich: sous-vide boneless chicken thighs marinated in buttermilk overnight before being dipped in a mix of flour and spices then deep-fried to a crisp. Even their hoagie rolls are made according to the chefs’ specifications – the centre of the rolls are hollowed out, so the fillings can be kept in place, without having to lose a single bite. 179 Telok Ayer Street.

07. Hidden Quarters: Andrew Nocente

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Here’s a new name on the block to watch out for. Australian (with Italian roots) Andrew Nocente is the executive chef for Loh Lik Peng’s new restaurant, 5th Quarter. Located within the new Hotel Vagabond by property developer Satinder Garcha, 5th Quarter is a modern contemporary grill that will have a strong focus on meat curing. Look out for items like rum-cured pork belly and meats grilled on a Josper grill using a combination of binchotan and mesquite wood chips. 39 Syed Awi Road.

08. Ripe Pickings: Ryan Clift

Ryan Clift might be associated with all things molecular but his latest venture is as low-tech as it gets, in a good way. Open Farm Community is a rustic dining concept that involves plucking fresh greens and fruit from his very own restaurant backyard, set up with Bjorn Low from urban farming community Edible Gardens. The restaurant occupies the former golf driving range behind the Jim Thompson Thai restaurant in Minden Road, and the menu will be tailored according to what’s growing in the garden. Clift has also brought in an Italian pasta machine, and is the first in Asia to own a custom-built charcoal oven by Italian artisan Paolo Parisi, where there are 10 decks to cook 10 different things at 10 different temperatures. 130E Minden Road.

09. Tribute to Heritage: Julien Royer

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After helming the kitchen at Jaan in Swissotel the Stamford for four years, and guiding the restaurant to 11th spot on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2015, French chef Julien Royer is joining hands with the Lo & Behold Group to open Odette in National Gallery Singapore. The fine-dining restaurant pays homage to Royer’s grandmother who played a large role in influencing his cuisine. While details of the menu are still in the works, Royer shares that the concept will be “produce-driven cuisine that showcases and respects the integrity of available quality ingredients”. 1 Saint Andrew’s Road.

(UPDATE: Odette has opened – read the review here.)

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Stay tuned to the website for more food trends that we’ve sniffed out as 2016 rolls around!