Singapore restaurant Odette took the No.1 spot in the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020, revealed through a virtual announcement on Tuesday 24th March. French chef Julien Royer took the chance to send a message of optimism and togetherness to the global hospitality industry
This year’s announcement of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants took on a very different format than in previous editions. With the continent – and the world – fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the list was revealed through a virtual announcement that chefs, restaurateurs and their teams watched from restaurants across the region. One of these was Julien Royer, whose Singapore restaurant Odette was voted The Best Restaurant in Asia 2020, earning the No.1 spot in the list for the second consecutive year.
“It’s an amazing and humbling recognition for the whole team – nearly 40 colleagues who have been working at Odette since the opening almost five years ago,” says Royer. “The situation at the moment is very unpredictable and scary for everyone, but I would like to send a message of togetherness. We’re all in the same boat: no matter the restaurant, the cuisine or where we are, it’s affecting us all. We have to put all our efforts together to ultimately carry on doing what we love.”
Royer and the core Odette team
Odette, a modern French restaurant located in the historic National Gallery Singapore, first received the double honour of The Best Restaurant in Asia and The Best Restaurant in Singapore in 2019, and despite saying that the last few months have been a “struggle”, Royer also highlights many happy moments from the past year. “We have been feeling a lot of love and support from our loyal local guests in Singapore and from people all over the region and the world,” he says.
“We are carrying on doing what we believe in, trying to get better and refine things every day. The beauty of our job is that we can taste, touch, smell, see and learn something new every day. It’s a constant learning exercise and that is what makes this job so special and so exciting.”
With travel restrictions limiting the numbers of tourists who can visit Singapore, the chef recognises that restaurants are facing a new challenge, but at the same time, the hospitality sector is getting ready for recovery. “It’s going to take some time, but I like to think about recovery and better things for tomorrow. We hope to find solutions in the meantime, as we really want to begin seeing restaurants busy again, people going out more and being less scared,” he says.
Odette's dish Hokkaido Uni
Royer is thankful that he has been able to keep Odette open and sends heartfelt wishes to his friends and peers in the US, Europe and beyond. “I see my colleagues fighting to find solutions, to keep going and not to close their doors,” he says. “Any kind of positivity and optimism is welcome at this time, when people are surrounded by bad news and stress. Many of us in the industry took an hour today to watch [the countdown of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants], and we forgot about the stresses for that hour. It’s the beginning of something very positive.”
William Drew, Director of Content at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, said in a video statement before the beginning of the virtual announcement: “Today, the hospitality sector, just as the world as a whole, is experiencing an unprecedented challenge due to the Covid-19 virus. We know that many millions of people are suffering all across the world right now. Our first thoughts and best wishes go out to those so adversely affected by this crisis.
"This announcement is not a celebration. The objective is one of recognition. At this time, more than ever, the restaurant sector needs support: recognising the hard work and talent of teams and individuals remains valid; showing a sense of community and mutual respect also feels important. We obviously discussed whether we should go ahead with announcing this year’s list and awards... The decision to proceed was made after consulting with chefs and restaurateurs and other leading figures in gastronomy across Asia.
"Today is about supporting Asia. The list and awards aim to offer some small rays of positivity even in these dark days. So let’s keep our community connected, united and prepared for eventual recovery once the situation improves."
Look inside Odette in the video:
Browse the full list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 on the website and discover all the individual awards recognising the work of chefs and restaurants in the region. Follow 50 Best on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the latest news and initiatives in support of the global restaurant industry.