Yes, Chef! Julien Royer, Owner of French Restaurant Odette
Asia/ Delish/ People

Yes, Chef! Julien Royer, Owner of Michelin-starred French Restaurant Odette

Julien Royer

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.

Success doesn’t come easy. It is packed with challenges, setbacks, and life lessons, and behind the triumphs are supportive families and nurturing environments that serve as the foundation of most — if not all — self-made professionals.

Take, for instance, the story of Singapore-based Chef Julien Royer, whose upbringing led him to become the award-winning chef that he is today.

Born into a family of farmers in Cantal, France, Chef Julien grew up in a rural community, where his childhood was spent farming and gardening in his family’s backyard. This instilled in him a profound appreciation for nature’s bounty and the culinary arts. It was his grandmother, Odette, who became his favourite companion when foraging for wild berries and turning them into delicious jams.

Chef Julien Royer
Photo by/Odette

At the young age of 14, Chef Julien embarked on his first kitchen job in a quaint restaurant in Salers, Cantal that specialises in traditional regional dishes. While he harboured aspirations of someday gracing the kitchens of Paris or Michelin-starred establishments, fate had bigger plans in store for him. Today, he stands as both the proprietor and chef of two prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants.

In 2008, Chef Julien landed in Singapore where he assumed the role of Chef de cuisine at Brasserie Les Saveurs at the St. Regis Hotel. Three years later, he moved to JAAN at Swissôtel The Stamford, and decided to leave in 2015 to establish modern French restaurant Odette, along with Louise in 2019 and Claudine in 2021–named in homage to the most influential women in his life.

The pinnacle of his achievements, the three-Michelin-starred (and 2024 Asia’s 50 Best #10) restaurant Odette in Singapore was named after his maternal grandmother. At the same time, Hong Kong-based one-Michelin-starred restaurant Louise honours the memories of his paternal grandmother, and his latest Singapore venture in 2021, Claudine serves as a testament to his mother’s nurturing love.

The Beat Asia had the opportunity to interview the acclaimed French Chef Julien Royer as he talked about his humble beginnings and two-decade journey as a culinary maestro and restaurateur.

What led you to pursue a career in culinary?

The desire to make people happy. To be able to give emotion and memories to people is truly special!

Could you elaborate on your grandmother's influence on your culinary journey and how her principles shaped the dining experience at Odette?

Odette Restaurant
Photo by/Odette

She's the inspiration behind the restaurant because she is the person who truly showed me how much emotion, happiness, and pleasure you can give people through food and cuisine. This is so close to my heart [and] what we are trying to do at the restaurant every single day.

What do you believe has been the key formula for your success as an award-winning chef and proprietor of a Michelin-starred restaurant?

Since day one, we have put the human aspect and the team at the core of our project.

Odette team
Photo by/Odette

What inspired your decision to move to Singapore and take on the role of Chef de Cuisine at JAAN Restaurant?

Hazards and opportunities of life in this industry. My original plan was to stay [in Singapore] for two years.

How do you personally define perfection in the culinary world, and how do you strive to achieve it in your own work?

I don't think perfection exists, so I can't really define it. I would rather believe in teamwork to create something special.

What inspired the concept and vision behind Claudine, your modern brasserie in Singapore?

The simple desire to cook great cuisine and classics, but with a Michelin-starred level of execution and a cuisine with no fuss. I also felt there was a gap in the market in Singapore between your 'everyday' bistro and fine dining. Claudine is filling this gap and it's great to see so many chefs and industry people dining there so often.

Can you share with us the journey and the emotions behind receiving an award from Michelin?

It is great recognition and a fantastic team reward. One must, however, not forget that we are cooking for our customers, our guests! And that is the most important.

What are some key principles or philosophies that you instill in your team to ensure consistency and excellence in the dining experience at Odette?

Tasting, tasting, and tasting again! Every day, we try to improve the dining experience.

How do your culinary background and experiences in Asia influence the French cuisine served at Odette?

Our cuisine has evolved a lot from something very French to something with a lot of zest from Asia. This evolution is evident in our use of ingredients, cooking techniques, tastes, and aesthetics.

As a chef with a global reputation, how do you handle the pressure of maintaining excellence while also pushing boundaries and exploring new culinary frontiers?

By being open minded and getting exposed to new horizons, cultures, and cuisine. This is crucial to me.

Please elaborate on some of the most valuable lessons you've learned throughout your career.

I think the biggest lesson I ever learned was when I was a young stagiaire at Michel Bras in Laguiole. I remember Michel telling us the importance of people, teamwork, humility, and integrity.

Looking ahead, are there other culinary directions you're interested in exploring?

I’m always so curious. The beauty of this job is truly that the more we know, the more we realise how little we know. We can see, taste, and touch something new every day; all our senses are excited, and emotions are also important.

This interview has been edited for clarity. To learn more about Chef Julien Royer’s restaurants and latest ventures, visit Odette’s official website or follow him on Instagram.

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

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