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Odette: Meet Julien Royer’s wife, the woman behind the award-winning French chef

Anybody who has met Odette's Julien Royer knows that he adores his wife Agnes. She's his trusted food taster, inspiration and life partner. The couple sit down to talk about what makes them tick.

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This is part of Julien Royer’s The Stories of Odette.


The couple fielded more questions (not in the video) below:

How did you two meet and what were your first impressions of each other?

Agnes: We met in hospitality school 16 years ago. I thought he was good-looking but didn’t like him because he was young and foolish. However, we had common friends and got to know each other over time.

Julien: I noticed her in school because she came in late, 15 minutes after everyone. And she had a very different look at that time – what she calls a posh punk look. I guess you can say that she was fashionably late!

Agnes: I had come straight from Paris and it was the first time in the countryside for me – a bit like a New Yorker going to Texas! But Julien was never really the countryside boy. He was well-educated and, even in high school he already had his signature polo shirt look. He has the soul of a farmer, but he isn’t a country boy.

  • The creative team behind Odette's concept.

What passions do you both share?

Agnes & Julien: Food and wine.

Agnes: It is life. If you have tried to skip a meal, you will know how lethargic and upset you get. After a good meal, you are happy. It brightens your day. It is what makes you happy and smile. Even food coma is nice.

Julien: I agree with all of that and am very lucky to pursue my passion in my career.

Agnes: Some people have to do some soul searching, try out different things, before they find out what their passion is – he has known since he was 10 years old. I, myself, went through so many changes – I left school at 18 and became front-desk manager at a Sofitel property when I was 21. After that, we decided to improve our English and went for a more international experience together – and I was approached to take care of St Regis Bora Bora’s spa when the resort opened. We continued the journey to St Regis Singapore. We left the hotel in 2010, but I struggled for a long time as I found good jobs but couldn’t get a visa.

Then I thought: Why do I keep applying in an industry that doesn’t really want me? I really like fashion, and, in many ways, the work is the same – establishing standard operational procedures and public relationships, about marketing and managing people; it is hard work and not the glamour that you see on TV. I was introduced to the owner of Mythology, Apsara Oswal, and, now, I am in charge of the boutique.

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Do you give each other food or fashion advice?

Agnes: If I am attending a professional function of his and we don’t leave the house together, I will send him a picture of my outfit and ask him how I look. If we happen to be wearing matching clothes, one of us will change; it is too cheesy!

Julien: Does she give me advice on cooking? No, but I like to listen to what she says because she has a good palate.

Agnes: I never give him cooking advice, but he asks for my opinion. Several times, he has called me, saying: “Come quickly! I have a new dish you need to try!”

Who cooks at home?

Julien: Agnes has cooked for me twice, in the 16 years we’ve known each other.

Agnes: He doesn’t cook much at home either, because he cooks for a minimum of four, not two! I don’t remember when was the first time I cooked for him, but the second was for Valentine’s Day.

Julien: The first time was four or five years ago, and the second was in 2015, a week after Valentine’s Day. First course was like a ceviche: shrimp with avocado, chilli sauce, extra virgin olive oil and coriander – because she knows I love coriander. Then a lamb sweetbread served with lamb jus, grain mustard and crushed potato peeled and gently poached, seasoned with salt and pepper. Last course was a strawberry-pineapple-basil leaf dessert encased in a heart-shaped meringue.

Who is the adventurous traveller?

Agnes: Me. I have so many dream destinations, but I will be happy to go anywhere in South America.

Julien: My dream destination is New York, simply for eating. And I would love to go to Hokkaido.

Who chooses where to eat while travelling?

Julien: Me. Always. We were at Khao Lak in Thailand and asked the hotel staff where they eat. They took us to a tiny restaurant on the beach, where a family cooked for only people they know. We had the spiciest-ever prawn ceviche; a salad of glass noodles with shrimp, pork, lots of peanuts, coriander and chilli; and a crisp-skinned roast pork. It was so impressive and memorable because we had no expectations at all.

Agnes: For me, the most memorable meal on our travels was at Ultraviolet in Shanghai in June 2015. It was like nothing anywhere else in the world, incorporating sight, sound, smell… It was beyond a dining experience.

How does your other half inspire you?

Agnes: He never thinks about doing something just to look good. He is very genuine.

Julien: Even during the difficult period when she was looking for work, she stayed positive and confident. Her confidence has influenced me to be more confident of myself.

What is your other half’s secret talent?

Julien: Agnes has very strong analytical and communication skills. She can fit into any situation with any kind of people.

Agnes: Nobody knows how well he sings. He has a knack for remembering lyrics and has a good sense of rhythm. He sings in the kitchen, and the shower – a lot!

Julien: The kitchen of Odette has piped-in music, and everybody sings along whenever the song Champs Elysees comes on. I think I should print out the lyrics for everyone.

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Read more of The Stories of Odette.