台灣名廚江振誠 13 歲展開廚藝生涯，120 分的努力雕琢細節只為了追求完美，米其林三星、亞洲 50 最佳餐廳、世界百大名廚加冕於一身，三十多年來一路直衝巔峰，最終來到一塊淨土「初心」面前，映照昨日種種的功成名就，原來放下那一瞬就是完美，江振誠洄游家鄉台灣，走在宜蘭家附近的阡陌田野間，彷彿站在新舊時代的交叉口，用自身的力量拾起散落的在地味譜，刻劃台灣當代料理樣貌，讓世代回望今日台灣仍有跡可循。
Famous Taiwanese chef André Chiang began his culinary life at the age of 13, devoting 120% of his endeavors towards details in the pursuit of perfection. He has attained the honors of a Michelin 3-Star, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and 100 Best Chefs in the World, reaching all the way to the peak over the past 3 decades to finally arrive at a piece of clean land, the “Intention,” reflecting the achievement from the past, realizing that the instant of letting go is perfection. André Chiang returned to his homeland in Taiwan, visited the fields in the vicinity of his home in Yilan as if standing at the crossroad of the new and the old era, picking up scattered local flavor profiles with his own strength to depict the looks of Taiwan’s contemporary cuisines, providing traces for generations of Taiwanese when looking back at today.
《enya FASHION QUEEN》封面人物拍攝前，RAW 才剛結束「台灣原生的火、木、石、土」客座料理餐會，主廚彭天恩 Alex來自魯凱族是江振誠的得意門生之一，他位於屏東霧台好茶村的 AKAME，店名取自族語「烤」，一個烤爐將部落食材以柴火慢燒出新的原民料理風貌。
隨著廚藝生涯江振誠走遍世界大城，像是法國、上海、東京和 Restaurant André所在地新加坡，每一次奮力前進似乎都為了更靠近家鄉台灣，最終落腳宜蘭阡陌田野間，他所處的城市地景愈趨簡化恰巧疊合全球自然生活趨勢，人生風景走過執迷不存在的完美、追求名廚的榮譽，如今已能用不慍不火的眼光思索台灣料理的出路，帶著初心回歸家鄉，江振誠比誰都還迫切尋求台灣味譜，訪談中他自認責無旁貸。
江振誠分享中西方餐飲生態的觀察，發現如今一線西餐主廚多是與他年齡相仿的40 代，中餐廳仍由他的上一代掌杓。在過去 5 至 20 年間，法菜持續尋找新的定義變化菜譜，我想台灣飲食文化則像一鍋遺忘時光的老滷汁重複浸泡，味道香濃懷舊但也少了新意，江振誠舉以北京烤鴨、糖醋排骨遵循古法為例指出「中餐一直回到過去，不准進步、不准改變。」
台灣多元文化反映出各色味譜，像是原住民、閩粵、中國八大菜系甚至日本和歐洲等殖民歷史，江振誠舉例我們愛吃三杯、知道紅糟，習慣追求口感帶有 Q 勁，台灣定義卻依然模糊，他拆解日常飲食如同我們獨有的注音符號思及「我們應該有自己的字母也就是味型，才能拼出自己的料理。」料理是江振誠一輩子的功課，以科學的方法分析味道、找出台灣的味型組合方式，是他爾後五到十年的作業。
綜觀江振誠 30 多年的廚藝生涯，每當抵達制高點就是下個階段的起點，問起結縭 15 年的泰籍妻子 Sudarampai Chiang (下文簡稱Pam）如何度過兩人休閒時光，她直說「沒有假日，沒有一天在休息」。形容江振誠如果是國王，她不是皇宮裡養尊處優的皇后而是將軍「消滅眼前阻礙去保護他。」在工作場域裡 Pam 扮黑臉無非是守護江振誠生涯裡的第一家餐廳 Restaurant André。
餐廳以江振誠英文名字為名，幾乎為他的生命代言，於此建立起八角哲學創作風格，但栽植於餐廳前的橄欖樹，樹影篩下新加坡的天光，卻不會忘記土裡的根來自南法，這個啟蒙江振誠踏入廚藝殿堂的國度。餐廳營運七年夫妻倆每日穿梭其間，在這座老式洋房裡有著只有 Pam 能看見的守護神「我總是會抱住祂祈求幫助，也真的總有好事發生」。
回首 2010年 10 月 10 日，Restaurant André選在兩人結婚紀念日開業，也在七年後同一天結束，Pam一顆顆淚水成了夫妻倆回憶裡閃耀的結晶。遇到江振誠以前，她是模特兒、主持人和時尚雜誌總編輯，跟隨丈夫返台過起田園生活，除了語言隔閡，最讓她激動的是沒能逛街也無需打扮。不過我們更好奇兩人從認識到結婚三個多月，如何確信對方是命定人選，Pam形容婚姻是場博弈，她是一隻看見王子的美人魚「沒了聲音也失去尾鰭，就只是為了跟他在一起即便沒有穿過女人一輩子夢想的婚紗，到近期才有了一顆戒指，Pam 則說「我看到他擁有滿身的天賦，還有迷人長相，每天看都不厭倦。」她雖然笑著告誡我們讓美人魚成為故事，然而講起夫妻經營之道Pam見解獨特「如果他擁有能發亮的天賦，你身為愛人為什麼要規範他的生涯，讓他成為一個沒有價值的人。」夫妻倆朝著相同目標彼此扶持把世界走的越加寬廣，講起兩人關係Pam說「我們不是一般夫妻，是血濃於水的存在。」
Restaurant André結束營運，卻是另一趟旅程的開始，早在新加坡，江振誠便陸續企劃並撰寫紀錄片《Food In Our Time》腳本，去年深入四大洲共 8 個國家，從酷寒的西伯利亞到炎熱的東非，不同廚師獨有的料理哲學嵌在道道料理上，江振誠在家鄉型塑當代台灣味，也記錄世界當代形貌作為他山之石。
影片最後，一位高齡 70 歲的愛奴飲食文化傳承者和江振誠走在落日餘暉的海灘，突然唱起傳統歌謠，零零落落的音符遁入海潮聲中，待拍攝結束，她說到「因為我下次或許見不到你了，所以想唱這首歌給你聽。」腳本外的真實情節、料理與人的真切互動，撼動著江振誠的內心「料理不僅是時代的刻度和傳承，也是文化很重要的延續。」
從一個技藝純熟的 good chef，江振誠如今已是 great chef 將自身成就擴及他人，為料理界承先啟後，成了人生志業。然而最初進入淡水商工餐飲科，他坦言並沒有太大興趣也不抱期待，全靠轉念他說「料理跟畫畫一樣，每個人可以表達屬於自己的審美，沒有標準。」料理維度是 3D、4D，因為透過品嘗能觸發情感連結，難度更甚平面繪畫，令天性喜歡挑戰的他一頭栽進料理世界，以超越常人的速度，成為國內最年輕的主廚，師承米其林三星最年輕得主雙胞胎主廚 Jacques 和 Laurent Pourcel，七年後接下海外展店執行主廚，最終落腳新加坡。
Restaurant André歸還米其林二星震撼外界，2018 年返台至今江振誠的心態走過巨變，即將在 8 月 21 日上映的紀錄片《初心》，導演黃程瀚拍下餐廳的巔峰時刻，也歷經結束時的沉潛，最終回歸家鄉的轉變，細膩記錄生涯裡最重要的抉擇。主廚 Laurent 曾勉勵江振誠「我希望你凡事都要做到完美，即使完美是不存在的。」江振誠奮力追求飄飛在宇宙裡的氣球，也許外人認為Restaurant André讓他站上高處，江振誠卻發現放下的那一刻才得到完美，「掌握住，永遠找不到完美；因為它永遠不會完美，初心是最原始那個讓你開心的元素。」
回想起他尋得「完美」的那一天，同樣和 Pam 仔細確認餐廳場內、外的細節，他說每天一定會有不對勁的東西，好比空調太冷、燈不對勁或廚房裡醬汁太鹹，「但那天廚房外場所有想的到的、看到的角落都是完美的。」
Back to Raw
Before shooting the cover story for enya FASHION QUEEN, RAW has just ended the guest chef “Taiwan’s primeval fire, wood, stone, and soil” cuisine gathering, with head chef Alex Peng, one of André Chiang’s proud apprentices from the Rukai Tribe. His restaurant, the AKAME in Haocha Village, Wutai of Pingtung was named after the tribal vocabulary of “grill” where an oven grill out new indigenous cuisine looks for tribal food ingredients with a wood fire.
For the naming of this guest chef cuisine gathering, André Chiang anticipated Alex Peng to make tribal dishes surmounting the realms of tribes and specific food ingredients, as in this fast-moving era particularly emphasizing convenience. We have deviated from Mother Nature which cultivates culture and where the indigenous pearls of wisdom act a bright mirror, André Chiang believes that “it was necessary to get close to nature and the food ingredients in the past, but we are now getting further and further apart and are learning fewer things as compared to the past.” A different guest chef cuisine gathering was not merely the test given out by André Chiang, but further enlightened the philosophy of civil life.
André Chiang set foot in the various cities worldwide following the culinary life, including France, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore, which is also the location for the Restaurant André. Each endeavor to go forward seems to be an effort to be closer to the homeland of Taiwan, where he finally settled amidst the fields in Yilan. The trend of simpler landscapes of the cities he stayed in happened to correspond with the global natural lifestyle. He was once obsessed with the perfection that does not exist and pursued the honor of a famous chef throughout his life. Now, he is able to think about the way out for Taiwanese dishes with leisurely insights, to return to the homeland while keeping this intention in mind. André Chiang is more eager to search for the Taiwanese flavor profiles than anyone else and he said he believes that it is his responsibility to do so during the interview.
Defining Taiwan’s Contemporary Flavor
The Chiang family has resided in Shilin close to the Shilin Commercial District in Taipei for over three generations, the place sells fresh food ingredients such as fish and meat in the morning, but transforms into a resplendent delicacy belt at night with the street vendors and the crowd, sculpting the most direct impression of Taiwanese food culture. This was the childhood memory of André Chiang, but he is also concerned that “If Taiwanese cuisine is in the night markets, will the young people be willing to join in?” Starting as a chef refining his skills in the kitchen, he now treats cooking with an additional philosophical perspective, seeing the stagnant development of Taiwanese cuisines with the French thoughts which keep up with the times.
André Chiang shared his observations towards the Chinese and Western diet ecologies, realizing that the majority of the top western head chefs nowadays are around the age of 40 similar to him, yet the Chinese restaurants are still handled by the generation before him. During the last 5 to 20 years, French cuisine continued to search for new definitions to vary the menu, but I think the Taiwanese food culture resembles a pot of ancient stew sauce which got lost track of time and got repeatedly soaked. Although offering nostalgically aromatic flavors, it was also lacking novelty. André Chiang took the Peking Roast Duck and Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs for instance, which follow the ancient approach for their preparation, thereby pointing out that ” Chinese cuisine constantly goes back to the past without allowance for improvement and change.”
Cooking is the most historical culture of humans, André Chiang described chefs’ handmade dishes resemble products depicting the era; ” Our responsibility is to record the most wonderful side of this era.” Tracing back the history of food culture is like archeology. ” The development progress of Taiwan’s cuisines in 2020 can be seen from the dishes cooked after a century; therefore, it is significant to define the Taiwanese flavors.” Differing from the concepts of other restaurants, André Chiang’s dishes focus on the contemporary, ” When we create a dish, we think about 50% is how to keep this tradition and continue so people won’t forget this flavor and even our next generation, and the other half you have to think where we are going.” which turns the culinary approach while inspiring the future from the past experience.
The diversified Taiwanese culture reflects various types of flavor profiles, for instance, the indigenous, the Fujian and Guangzhou, the 8 Great Chinese Cuisine or even the Japanese and European colonial histories, etc. André Chiang raised examples including how we love to taste three-cup cuisines, how we know about red lees, how we are used to pursuing the taste of chewiness, but the definition for Taiwan is still vague. He decomposed the daily meals like our unique phonetic symbols, and that “we should have our own alphabets, which represent the types of tastes in order to make our own cuisines.” Cooking is the homework of life to André Chiang and attempting to analyze the tastes with scientific methods and to find out the combining methods for the Taiwanese types of tastes will be his work for the next 5 to 10 years.
André Chiang in the Eyes of His Wife
Taking a comprehensive view of André Chiang’s culinary life of over 3 decades, each peak point is the start of the next level, when we asked Sudarampai Chiang (Pam), his Thai wife who has been married to him for 15 years how they spend their leisure hours, and she said” We never have leisure time, a single time to relax.” She said if André Chiang is a king, then she is not the pampered queen in the palace, but rather the general who has to protect him and kill someone for him. In the work field, Pam acts as the hardcore role to guard the very first restaurant in André Chiang’s career, Restaurant André.
The restaurant is named after André Chiang, acting as the spokesperson for his life with the establishment of the “Octaphilosophy” creative style, however, the olive tree planted in front of the restaurant which screens the sky of Singapore will never forget that the root underneath the soil originated from Southern France, the kingdom which enlightened André Chiang to become involved in the culinary field. The couple kept busy in the restaurant throughout the past 7 years of its operations and there is a guardian angel in this vintage foreign-style house which can only be seen by Pam, “before the service I would hug him and say’please help me today’and he helped me every day.”
Looking back on October 10th, 2010, Restaurant André chose to open on their wedding anniversary, which also ended on the same day 7 years later, where Pam’s drops of tears transformed into dazzling crystals in the couple’s memories. She was a model, a host and a fashion magazine chief editor before meeting André Chiang. She followed her husband to return to Taiwan and lived the country life. Other than the language barrier, what stirred her most was that there was no need to shop or dress up.
However, we were more curious about how they decided to get married after just over 3 months of knowing each other; how could they be certain that they were the one for each other. Pam described marriage as a gamble and that she was like a mermaid who saw a prince, ” I traded off my voice and cut my fin, just to be with him until now.” Even though she never had the chance to put on the dream wedding dress of each woman’s life and only came in possession of a ring recently, Pam said: ” I see his talents and charming looks, which I can never get enough of even after looking at him every day.
” Although she smilingly warned us about making the mermaid become the story, Pam has unique insights when speaking about the relationship between husband and wife, ” If that is the only job let the person shine and so successful, and you really love this man why you shouldn’t do it. Never rule other people career or life, and he becomes the dead body.” Pam and André Chiang support each other to advance towards the same goal and broadening the world; when speaking of their relationship, she said “My relationship with him may be very different than any other husband and wife relationship because I feel that he is my blood, really blood-related.”
Traveling the World to Record the Contemporary
The closing of Restaurant André was the start of another journey, André Chiang had begun the planning and writing of the script for the documentary Food in Our Time since he was in Singapore, he traveled to 8 countries of 4 continents last year, including cold Siberia to hot East Africa, introducing the unique culinary philosophies of different chefs to the cuisines. André Chiang has sculpted contemporary Taiwanese flavors at the homeland while recording the world’s contemporary looks as references for improvement.
Life in reality never follows the script; cuisines can be accurately measured in the kitchen, but they turn into an unpredictable path once having contact with the emotions produced by people. The Ainu tribe of Hokkaido, Japan was only identified as “indigenous people” by the government at the beginning of last year, and before this, the Ainu Tribe was the aphasia amongst the Yamato culture. André Chiang traveled deep into the Ainu tribal village to observe the culinary preparation process of the traditional cuisines and even dined with them on the same dining table. The satisfaction in the eyes of the tribal people allowed him to realize that “they can only preserve the culture via cuisines, as cooking requires no talking and can be preserved in silence.”
At the end of the film, a 70-year-old Ainu food culture inheritor walking along the beach at sunset with André Chiang suddenly starts singing a traditional ballad, with the scattered music notes sinking into the sound of the waves. After the filming has come to an end, she said “I wanted to sing this song for you because I may not be able to see you again. ” The real-life plot, the dishes and the sincere interactions with people outside of the script have touched André Chiang’s heart deeply, “Cooking is not merely the scale and inheritance of an era, but is also a vital continuance of culture.”
Following the camera to arrive at Ghana in Africa, the poor local land resulted in a very little history of food culture, where the development of contemporary dishes had to start from the very beginning. Carrying the responsibility of the era, when André Chiang was asked whether or not he has the empathy during the process of defining contemporary Taiwanese flavors, he replied that Taiwan is so much more blessed in comparison, “We can inherit the history from our predecessors and we are gifted with abundant natural resources.” Diet options nowadays are diversified but are also faced with many challenges, realizing that the majority of the culinary programs are based on tasting delicacies or organizing competitions, André Chiang chose to travel the world to explore cuisines from various places, he has described it as the documentation of an era and the homework to himself, “It resembles a milestone, I can proudly share with the others.”
Documentary André & His Olive Tree
André Chiang has become a great chef spreading his accomplishment to others from a good chef with mature skills and acting as the link between the past and the future for the cuisine field has become his aspiration in life. However, he said frankly that he did not hold high interest or any expectations when he first entered the Food and Beverage Department at New Taipei Municipal Tamsui Vocational Senior High School. He fully depended on the thought of “Cooking is the same as painting; everyone can express their own sense of beauty, there is no standard.” The dimension of cooking is 3D and 4D, as emotional connections can be triggered via tasting, with a difficulty even higher than graphical drawing, which made him delve into the cuisine world as he was born to accept challenges. He then became the youngest head chef with a speed beyond a normal human being, learning after the youngest twin Michelin head chefs Jacques and Laurent, he took over the post as the executive head chef for the overseas expansion store, settling in Singapore in the end.
Restaurant André startled the world by returning the Michelin 2-star, André Chiang has experienced enormous changes of attitude since his return to Taiwan in 2018. Director Cheng-Han Huang filmed the peak days of the restaurant in the documentary André & his olive tree to be released on August 21st, as well as experienced the sinking days during the closing of the restaurant, and the transition of returning to the homeland at the end, meticulously documenting his most vital decisions in life. Head chef Laurent once encouraged André Chiang “I hope that you do everything perfectly, even if perfection does not exist.” André Chiang strove to pursue the balloon floating in the universe, outsiders may think that Restaurant André took him to the high point, yet André Chiang discovered that perfection was only attained at the instant of letting go, “Perfection will never be found if you keep holding onto it, as it will never be perfect, the intention is the most primitive element that makes you happy.”
Thinking back to that day when he found “perfection” he was carefully checking the internal and external details of the restaurant just like Pam, he said that there will always be something wrong every day, for instance, the air-conditioning being too cold, the light not being right or the sauce been too salty in the kitchen; “But that day, every corner you can think of and see outside of the kitchen was perfect.”
André Chiang sat on the sofa with Pam sitting beside him, they both looked around as if painting on the last stroke, and he said “It’s perfect.” That night, André Chiang announced to the team in the office about his retirement from the restaurant. Michelin star honors filled the walls. However, “When you see that work and realized that it is how you want it to be, and there is no other state better than this, then it is complete.” The intention for André Chiang was when he decided to become a chef, he was excited just being able to cook and stay in the kitchen, the pure land capable of gently leading André Chiang in returning to the self-satisfaction inside the heart.