World Chefs: Justin Quek keeps tradition in French-Asian fusion

Tue Mar 4, 2014 12:01am EST
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By John O'Callaghan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Modern fusion is the hallmark of Singaporean chef Justin Quek but tradition and technique are his unshakable foundation as he reinvents Asian favorites with French flavors and flair.

Quek, principal chef at the tony Sky on 57 restaurant atop the Marina Bay Sands casino resort in Singapore, fell into his career by accident. Wanting to travel as a young man, he took a job on a merchant ship and ended up as a steward in the galley.

His passion ignited, he went to catering school back at home and worked in hotel kitchens in Bangkok and Singapore before spending his life savings on a year-long stay in France to sharpen his skills. That expertise paid off when he became the personal chef to two French ambassadors in Singapore.

Quek, 51, has also had his hand in restaurants in China and Taiwan, including Justin Signature and Just in Bistro & Wine Bar in Taipei.

Talking at breakneck speed on the panoramic terrace of Sky on 57, Quek spoke to Reuters about fusing culinary cultures, inspiring the next generation of chefs and finding pleasure in food - from the sophisticated to the simple.

Q: What is it about French cooking that you love so much?

A: I just like the French art, the presentation, the complexity of preparing the dishes. That inspires me. I've been in this career for 30 years and have not changed my path from French cuisine. That was my foundation.

Of course, the cuisine has changed. The old style becomes the new style. And of course, being Singaporean and travelling around the world, my palate tells me I'm in Asia. So I take that foundation but I put my own creativity and our Asian culture into the food.   Continued...