For me a restaurant is not a place for us to show what we can do. I say to my team, probably 10 times a week, that a restaurant is about meeting the guests’ agenda – be it to sign a contract, impress a girlfriend, see new culinary techniques, or simply to enjoy the meal, the conversation. For me, it is ok that a guest forgets what he ate the moment he walks out of the door – because they will come back again as long as their agenda is met. Serving a meal is no longer about food: It’s a performance.
The dining experience is like a movie and every restaurant is a theatre that specialises in a different genre. The patrons choose the movie genre that they like to get the kind of story that they expect. The difference between watching a movie and going to a restaurant is that we – the chefs, servers and everybody working at the restaurant – act out the storyline, but it is the guest who decides the ending. That ending which they choose is their agenda, what they have come looking for. And giving every diner the ending that they are looking for, now, that is the art. This is why I personally allocate the seating of the guests at my restaurant – different types of seating are needed for different occasions, be it a birthday party, a corporate meeting or a date. Through the course of the meal we also fine-tune our understanding of the guests’ needs – whether they want to know more about what we do, or if they don’t care about this abstract thing called Octaphilosophy and just want a good meal.
The dining experience is like a movie and every restaurant is a theatre that specialises in a different genre.
So there are many different stories being acted out at the dining room at once. And this is possible because everybody has their own unique takeaway. We’ve had French guests who tell me that they are very happy to see some French touches in the food. Similarly, Japanese and Taiwanese guests have told me the same, that they see hints of their native culture in my food, and that it made them happy. The thing is, everybody will find whichever part that he or she relates to best. It is just like a love song that touches different couples with different stories, and everybody feels like the song is talking about them.
Indeed all of us live and do things differently, yet we are able to find some thread of commonality. For me, the eight elements of Octaphilosophy is how I see the world. It is part of my life, made up of the many different things connected: How I see things, where I came from, how I get inspired… These are eight key words from which I take ideas. And I guess if we sit down and think about it, everyone might have eight keywords that belong to him or her. Octaphilosophy is not about what happens within this building, it is everything in my life, and I hope that just as my diners can relate to the elements in my food, the readers can relate it to their lives. And when they find their own life philosophy, they don’t just discover their sources of inspiration, but where their true happiness is.