Julien Royer followed his success with Odette in Singapore by opening casual French restaurant Louise in Hong Kong earlier this year, tapping Franckelie Laloum as executive chef. We spoke to the twosome about their shared backgrounds and their successes so far.
How did you first get interested in food?
Julien: I was born in a farmer’s family and my grandma is a very good cook. I am very lucky to be surrounded by good produce and good food. My love for food and cooking comes naturally.
Franckelie: My father is a chef, so I actually grew up in a restaurant. Eating and cooking have always been very important in our family. Being a chef was almost a natural choice.
What’s your background? How did you train to become a chef?
Julien: I started my culinary career under Michel Bras in Laguiole, then I moved to Durtol to work for chef Bernard Andrieux. After that I moved to London, then to Singapore as the chef de cuisine at JAAN. In 2015, I left JAAN and opened Odette, and now my second restaurant Louise.
Franckelie: I mostly worked in two and three Michelin starred restaurants in France, including Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris and Maison Pic in Valence. I always wanted to work in fine dining restaurants to to learn about the best ways of cooking, the best techniques and the best ingredients.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a chef?
Julien: Passion and determination. Being a chef is a demanding job. You need to be really passionate to keep you moving forward.
Franckelie: Curiosity, humility, passion, hard work, and you need to love people.
Odette took the number one spot in Asia’s 50 Best list this year. Did you expect such success when you first opened the restaurant?
Julien: I am very honored. I would like to share the award with my team, who made this possible. It is an affirmation of our hard work.
I would not believe it if you told me the restaurant would be Asia’s number one back then, but I believe in what I am doing — delivering a good meal composed of exceptional ingredients, classic and solid French cooking techniques, and welcoming, warm hospitality.
Why did you decide on Hong Kong for your first restaurant outside of Singapore?
Julien: Hong Kong, similar to Singapore, is a big food city with a good mixture of the East and the West, with easy access to ingredients from around the world. The food scene in Hong Kong is amazing, with an audience that’s global and diverse. I believe Hongkongers will enjoy my food.
Can you describe the cuisine at Louise?
Julien: The food at Louise is full of my childhood memories, food I would enjoy eating when I am off work. The dishes are very classic French cooked with solid French techniques, exceptional ingredients and straightforward plating. Louise allows me to really go back to my roots and rediscover the heritage recipes that I grew up with.
How did the two of you come to work together?
Julien: We met at one of the Asia’s 50 Best events back in 2013 and became good friends. We have similar thoughts regarding culinary direction, we both have Michelin starred fine-dining background,s and we have both stayed in Asia for a long time. When I started planning for Louise, I thought of Franckelie and invited him to head the kitchen here in Hong Kong.
Franckelie: I moved to Hong Kong a few months ago following my wife, who got promoted here, and Julien reached out to me about Louise.
What’s one of your favorite dishes?
Franckelie: I love turbot grenobloise and different French cheeses with, of course, a nice glass of wine.
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