An interview with Sebastien Lepinoy, about ‘Les Amis’ and his Charvet cooking suite

Simplicity in the kitchen is the best, but the hardest part to replicate…

Sebastien Lepinoy, whose Singapore restaurant ‘Les Amis’ has been awarded 3 Michelin Stars, talks cooking, kitchens, the stars and Charvet.

Marlène Thomas, Chargée de Marketing et Communication, Charvet France: “The Chef, equipped with Charvet, told us his story with passion … a beautiful story that deserves to be known!”

Sebastien Lepinoy: “I started cooking at the age of 15. It was an obvious choice, as my two older brothers were already in the restaurant business. At the age of 18, by chance, I arrived at Joël Robuchon. I spent a large part of my career with him (from 1993 to 2010).  At 36, I decided to leave Joël Robuchon’s circle as it was time for me to be my own Chef and start my own kitchen.  Following this decision, I found the Les Amis Group in Singapore. I joined Cépage, Hong Kong, in 2010 and was there for 3 years when the owner proposed that I take over the main restaurant in Singapore.”

This is where our story with Charvet began.

“In 2013, I moved from Hong Kong to Singapore to take over Les Amis restaurant, which was almost 20 years old and in poor condition.  After a few months, I proposed to its owner that the restaurant go through a complete renovation — specifically the kitchens.  My proposal was accepted in 2014, and I set up a budget for the complete restoration of the kitchens.  This is where my story with Charvet began.

“After meeting with a professional kitchen designer, I knew I wanted to create a kitchen tailored specifically to my criteria.  I was advised to design the suite directly with Charvet to obtain a quality cooking island built for longevity.”

The island.

“I am more than satisfied with the Charvet piano!

“We needed a solid suite because restaurants operate 7 days a week in Asia, as opposed to other parts of the world where restaurants usually close for two days a week.  The equipment obviously wears out much faster (with a a 30% increase in use compared to restaurants that close two days a week).  This had to be taken into consideration when sourcing the suite.

“Charvet develops pianos according to the Chef’s needs, and each Chef is different.  My cuisine is classic, so for me it was necessary to create a “classic” suite.  I wanted a kitchen to make it ‘hot’!”

Working with high performance equipment in a beautiful kitchen are important criteria for obtaining 3 Michelin Stars

“The Charvet island was installed in April 2015, with the Michelin Guide announcing they would be here in July 2016.

“One year after renovating the kitchen, I won two Michelin stars. Last year, we won our third.  It is incredibly important to be consistent in order to get three stars in the Michelin Guide. You cannot have a solid top or an oven that does not work!

“Let’s be honest: The new kitchen and the Charvet suite definitely helped getting us those stars!  Working with beautiful, high-performance equipment are important criteria to obtain 3 Michelin Stars. The Charvet island definitely played a major part in this.”

Curious minds want to know…

What product do you like to work with the most?

“Caviar!  I am a huge consumer of caviar. Working with a Parisian house, I have a very special selection of caviar for the restaurant.”

Who cooks at home?

“My wife!  She is Korean and was a TV Chef before, as well as a cookbook author. These days she works less time in the restaurant business. She cooks at home — she is an exceptionally good cook!”

What is your favourite dish?

“I don’t have one favourite dish – I have favourite dishes! I enjoy simple dishes – nothing too fussy.   On Sunday, for example, I made a Nicoise salad at home.  For me it is a pleasure, and it’s a French dish – it’s always an emotional moment!

“Simplicity in the kitchen is the best, but the hardest part to replicate.”