A letter to André Chiang - from his mother
To mark US Mother’s Day, we examine the deep relationship between this great chef and his mom
We all like to spend lunch with our mom on Mother's Day. Yet, as always, chef André Chiang is taking things a little further. Today, Sunday, 8 May, which is Mother’s Day in the US and much of East Asia, Chiang will be cooking alongside his mom, Tina Lin, at his Taiwanese Restaurant, RAW.
The date forms part of the Octaphilosopher’s on-going book tour, yet the relationship between mother and son runs much deeper than simple cookery.
"Every second year I travel somewhere special with my mum," André told us recently. "We will get together and travel somewhere together. Last year we were in the north of Taiwan on a mountainside where some of the native tribes live. In Taiwan we have nine different tribes. We stayed in an old house and saw how the locals grew vegetables, how they foraged and hunted wild boar and how they cooked. It was interesting for us to understand our culture together. My mum’s a chef and her cooking has always been an inspiration."
And it is heartening to learn that this feeling is mutual. Here’s André’s mother, Tina Lin, writing an open letter to her son. It appears as part of the introduction to Chiang’s new book, Octaphilosophy
"André, my son, I’m truly proud of you, and proud to be your mother, of seeing you stand firmly in front of the world’s best, and by watching you build up your castle step by step with your bare hands.
From a young age, you never made me worry about you. In the future, I’m certain that you will keep going on the path where you make your dreams come true. You will inspire more artists like you though your food and change people’s perspective on food with your Octaphilosophy.
Many people consider your food as exquisite, surprising and extreme, but what I taste in your cooking is 20 years of your unrelenting effort, your hard work and your eye for detail.
People see your excellence shine, but what I see in you is how you move forward ambitiously with determination, never compromising, focussed and never accepting defeat. These characteristics made who you are today.
Watching you from a trainee, to today, where you run your brigade like a warrior to the point where you have created your own philosophy, I can now see in your food your uniqueness, passion and faith in believing in what you do and the strong message that you convey to your guests.
As your mother, I expect to see you reach your next milestone and embrace the world with your food and your philosophy. Remember to stay humble, never forget your original intention with sincerity and enthusiasm: to inspire and lead the young generation, treat them as your own children and to contribute to society.
I am so proud of you. As I always say to you on your birthday, ‘Thank you for coming into this world and being my boy. You are my second life’.
Lastly, being such a busy man, you must always take good care of your health.
We especially love that last bit! To find out more about Tina’s boy’s talents order a copy of Octaphilosophy. The book explores 365 days in Chiang's Restaurant André in Singapore. It includes dramatic snacks, precisely crafted dishes and meticulous sweets over each season, and documents the stories and processes behind each dish, André Chiang shares his unique approach to food, combining the technical precision of Asian gastronomy with the French culinary preference for produce, producers and seasonality. Learn more about Octaphilosophy and André here.