Chef Bjoern Alexander: From Michelin Stars to Charcoal Bar

Yes, Chef! Chef Bjoern Alexander’s Michelin-starred Global Culinary Odyssey

Yes Chef Chef Bjoern Alexanders Michelin starred Global Culinary Odyssey

Asia is one food-crazy continent! We take great care to pick restaurants based on culinary vibes, rankings on international gourmand guides, mentions in magazines, Instagrammability, and added hunger. Yes, Chef! features the region’s chefs’ stories of love and labour in kitchens that have made some of our restaurants the next big thing in Asia.

German-born Chef Bjoern Alexander might have found his start in his home nation, first bursting onto the scene at the three-Michelin-starred Schlosshotel Bensberg, but the imprint he has left on the culinary world has long since traversed halfway across the globe and further, taking him to Dubai, then further east to Shanghai, and then to Hong Kong.

Toting two Michelin stars for his role as Chef de Cuisine at Octavium, Chef Bjoern took a detour from Hong Kong with a foray into Singapore, where he introduced Restaurant Matera at the historic Fullerton Waterboat House. While currently based out of the Lion City, he had made frequent trips back to the SAR to launch his tasting menu series at LUMA and to kick off his latest post in leading kitchen operations at Tsim Sha Tsui’s hottest new waterfront grill house, Charcoal Bar.

Catching up with the affable chef for a glimpse into what other surprises lies ahead in his storied and prestige-filled career; check out The Beat Asia’s chat with Chef Bjoern on how his worldly influences shape his culinary views today, as well as the frontiers of tomorrow.

Charcoal Bar hong kong oysters prime op rib
Charcoal Bar

Having formerly worked in Berlin, Shanghai, California, Hong Kong, and now based in Singapore – how have these cities influenced your cooking style? And how do you gather inspiration when moving to a new city?

Each city has its own distinct tastes and palates. One of the biggest challenges in China, for example, is that people have different preferences for spiciness, flavour intensity, and saltiness based on their regional backgrounds. Working in different cultures and experiencing diverse food flavours has expanded my creativity in creating new dishes.

You have an international and star-studded history that spans multiple Michelin-starred establishments around the world. What are your words of advice for aspiring chefs who hope to embark on a journey towards achieving Michelin star status?

In the past, I sought out the best places to work because I wanted to learn from the best. Working for renowned chefs was highly competitive, and many people were willing to work without pay just for the opportunity to learn. You needed connections to get into these restaurants.

Many chefs dream of earning a Michelin star, but when you consider the number of restaurants in a city – like Hong Kong, for instance – and how few have attained a star, you realize it's a small percentage.

Consistency is key to achieving this level of recognition, along with honing your cooking skills, techniques, and creativity. Most importantly, you need passion and dedication because success doesn't come quickly—you must invest time and take it seriously.

restaurant matera singapore
Restaurant Matera

Having left your imprint on fine dining icons Octavium and Petrus in Hong Kong, what inspired you to pivot towards opening the comparatively more laidback concept of Charcoal Bar?

Hong Kong is still my home, and I wanted to maintain my presence here, so when the owner, Louie Chung, approached me to work together on creating beautiful concepts like Charcoal Bar, I was thrilled.

Charcoal Bar isn't just a laidback concept; it reflects the current trends and preferences of people who don't want to spend a fortune on food, but still expect good quality. The owner of Lubuds Group and I collaborated on this concept to create an affordable steakhouse that incorporates woodfire techniques.

How did you come to select the city of Matera as the eponymous source of inspiration for Restaurant Matera?

I have been to Singapore many times and wanted to experience the city and its market. Matera is still relatively close to Hong Kong, making it an ideal choice for a new culinary adventure. Moreover, after my time at Octavium, I wanted a change of scenery to rekindle my creativity and challenge myself.

chef bjoern alexander panek

While you are no stranger to playing with fusion cuisines, what cultures or themes in gastronomy have you yet to explore that are next on the horizon for you?

I am very into Chinese cuisine at the moment. Different regions in China have their own unique flavour profiles and techniques, so it’s a beautiful cuisine to explore. I have great respect for Chinese chefs because their dishes often appear deceptively simple, but there’s a lot of skill and complexity behind each creation that I admire.

We’ve seen you introduce many distinct concepts across Asia. Where’s next on your bucket list?

No concrete plans yet, but I would love to continue working with Louie Chung, the owner of Lubuds Group. He is an exceptional owner and boss who understands people's preferences when it comes to food. It was an incredible experience collaborating with him on finalizing the dishes for Charcoal Bar, which involved extensive 10-hour food tastings every day. He knows what he wants, and I truly appreciate that.

Additionally, Lubuds Group is dedicated to supporting Hong Kong's tourism and food culture, which is another big reason for me to keep my name here. I want to train local chefs, help bring out their talents, and contribute to making Hong Kong a vibrant city for good food.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Keep up with Chef Bjoern and his latest ventures at @bjoern_alexander_75 on Instagram

Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Yes, Chef! profiles here.

Get the latest curated content with The Beat Asia's newsletters. Sign up now for a weekly dose of the best stories, events, and deals delivered straight to your inbox. Don't miss out! Click here to subscribe.

This Week's Events In Asia View more

Sign up to receive updates on what's going on in the city. Don't miss out on exciting events, news, and more. Sign up today!

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice
Thank you for subscribing! Click here if you were not redirected.