ASIA’s 50 Best Restaurants, which will be held in Bangkok next year after being staged in Singapore for the past three years, said the move had nothing to do with Michelin’s announcement of launching a guide in Singapore.
William Drew, group editor of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, said the intention had always been to move the event to different host countries across the region, although sources speculated it was probably due to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) cutting back its support as it had the Michelin Guide in mind.
A new willing partner, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, sees the awards ceremony for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants taking place on February 29 at the W Hotel Bangkok. Drew is unfazed by Singapore’s Michelin Guide, saying: “Since its launch in 2013, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants has established itself as the ultimate reference point for gastronomy across the continent, celebrating great restaurants and great chefs and providing a unique guide to the finest dining destinations.
“We will continue to build our presence and profile in Asia, using our panel of over 300 independent expert voters from every corner of the region.”
While hoteliers and restaurateurs in Singapore welcome the guide, they too do not expect its entry in the second half of next year to add fire to an already sizzling dining scene.
Said Beppe de Vito, owner of a string of restaurants in Singapore including Aura at the National Gallery, said: “It is definitely a positive thing to finally have Michelin in Singapore, especially since none of the other local guides have ever been able to offer similar professional reviews.
“Personally I doubt it will change anything as Singapore’s dining scene has been steadily improving over the past 10 years, and especially since the arrival of the two casinos.
“Most surely it will inflate some egos and destroy some others, especially in the Western dining scene. I also believe it is still just a minority of the whole customer spectrum who ‘listens’ to Michelin.”
Loh Lik Peng, director of Unlisted Collection, which also owns trendy restaurants apart from boutique hotels in Singapore, agreed. He said: “I think the guide will be interesting for Singapore’s dining scene… I’m not sure if it will make a difference to the vast majority of restaurants here, but our world-class restaurants will have another avenue to really showcase what they are doing. Overall, probably a positive for Singapore but I do hope our local cuisine gets a good shout out from the list.”
Olivier Bendel, CEO of Deliciae Hospitality Management, is more enthusiastic, saying: “The Michelin Guide is a real institution for over 100 years in France and probably the leader in restaurant classification around the world. It’s amazing to have it here soon and it will help even more to promote Singapore and our profession. We all hope that the guide here will be as accurate and as independent as in France, promoting ingredients, dishes, talent and hard work. It will for sure push all of us hard to do even better as of today.”
Hilton Worldwide Asia-Pacific’s vice president of F&B, Markus Schueller, believes the guide will elevate Singapore’s culinary scene to the level of other cities in Asia that already have it, namely, Japan, Macau and Hong Kong. “Having said this, the Michelin Guide is just one of a number of ways guests today are assessing restaurants.
“Fundamentally, more guests are looking for authentic dining experiences that give them a way to experience the city or locale they are visiting, or that offer something not currently found in the local market,” said Schueller.
This is why the chain is continually investing to ensure “we are future-proofing our dining concepts that are relevant to people living and working in that city”, said Schueller.
“Across our portfolio in Asia-Pacific, we have invested in key masterplan projects… most recently Opus Bar & Grill at Hilton Singapore.”
Schueller works alongside chefs and designers to redevelop F&B concepts at Hilton hotels in the region. Aside from the Hilton Singapore, multi-million dollar refurbishments of dining areas in properties such as Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Hilton Tokyo Bay, and Hilton Tokyo have also been carried out.