How Friends Are Delivering Food for the Soul in These Dark Times
We have been in the pandemic for over a year and as vaccination rates in Singapore rise steadily, the latest round of measures has all but weakened the spirit of the nation.
The restaurant scene is still the hardest hit, as on-site dining is once again banned. This time around, chefs and restaurateurs are more prepared than ever to deal with deliveries and, in some cases, retail.
This includes Les Amis, three Michelin stars, synonymous with starched white tablecloths, impeccable classic dishes and more polished service than the sparkling chandeliers of the Palace of Versailles. It is the pinnacle of French gastronomy in Singapore; a luxury that may at first glance seem a bit out of place at a time when people care more about their well-being than the quantity of caviar on their mother-of-pearl spoons.
But maybe that touch of luxury is just what the soul needs in these depressing times.
“I feel [that] the food and the whole dining experience brings excitement and joy to people’s lives, ”said Chef Sébastien Lepinoy. “People by nature love to be pampered, and it’s our job here in a three Michelin star gourmet restaurant to pamper our guests. In a sense, our restaurant serves as a respite for people to escape the monotony of everyday life.
This care during this phase 2 (Enhanced alert) comes in the form of items available for retail sale and to take away. As Les Amis focused on family-friendly comfort food at home during Circuit Breaker, the offerings got a little more decadent.
Gourmet ice creams with tantalizing flavors like Sicilian pistachio and Blue Mountain coffee are available starting at $ 32, while a 250g dark chocolate cake costs $ 45. On the friendlier end of the spectrum, classic French baguettes cost $ 5, while a massive 1.7kg box of restaurant-exclusive Kristal caviar costs $ 4,825. Despite the high price tag, caviar is sold out at press time with new shipments starting August 2. In between, there are tasty options like homemade butter churned in a wooden drum ($ 12), French onion soup ($ 15), and roast chicken ($ 150).
The take-out meals in a space dedicated to gastronomy were unheard of a few years ago. In pre-pandemic France, for example, bringing home leftover food from a restaurant was a matter of national debate. As the pandemic raged, gastronomic mainstays across the world, from Noma to Alain Ducasse, had to pivot to keep their lights on and their salaries paid.
“In 2020, during the first confinement, we were not as prepared as today,” said chef Sébastien. “It was really worrying when the government announced that dinner was not allowed. Since then, we’ve developed financial guarantees and even protocols to make sure we’re ready. We have learned from our past experience – what works and what does not. As the saying goes “Once bitten, twice shy. “
Now the restaurant is taking the bull by the horns and investing in a state-of-the-art cooler with retail items accessible by fingerprint. It can house goods totaling up to six digits thanks to the volume of caviar maintained at a precise temperature.
“As much as I wish we didn’t have to close the restaurant, it gives me and my team the opportunity to work on other ongoing projects as well,” explained the chef. When asked what are the moving objects for the fast, he replies: “Caviar, ice cream and chocolate pie.”
“We are very grateful to have the constant support of our regulars and the public,” he adds.
(All images are courtesy of Friends)
For more information on the menu, visit lesamis.com.sg/gifting.
This story first appeared in Lifestyle Asia Singapore.