Not too long ago the combination of being a vegetarian and having the status of a celebrity chef was impossible. Some of the macho chefs you see on TV might even make fun of vegetarians. However, the kitchen world has changed. Skill and taste are no longer measured by what one eats.
If your dish tastes just excellent, does it really matter whether it was thought of, made or created by a vegetarian, someone following a gluten-free diet or an absolute meat lover? It used to be, but not anymore. Stigma and prestige often came as a side dish in the old days. However, modern foodies take taste for what it is.
Emmanuel Stroobant started working in a kitchen in his home town of Liege (Belgium) as a dishwasher in order to finance his studies. Never having had a desire to pursue a culinary career, he feel in love with the life in the kitchen – quitting school. Stroobant is known for his flagship restaurant Saint Pierre, which opened in 2000, running successfully until today.
Before coming to Singapore, he already lived and cooked in Australia and Malaysia. In total Emmanuel Stroobant has been cooked for already three decades. Although he has always embraced fresh and organic produce, he has not always been a vegetarian. Stroobant was told several years ago that he was suffering from a high cholesterol level. Taking action, he decided to make a change in his life, resulting in becoming a vegetarian and practicing yoga on a regular basis.
Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle
Already before becoming a vegetarian, Stroobant followed his own healthy philosophy. He preferred wholesome produce over any other and made a point of using organic ingredients of the highest quality – which wasn’t as common in 2000 as it is now.
When it comes to flavours, his creations follow a strict guideline. As one can easily mix too many flavours, creating an exploration of taste in which the natural and original flavour of ingredients is totally lost. Being simple is sometimes more rewarding. In his restaurant Saint Pierre his uses a maximum of five flavours and elements for any his culinary creations – no more. This way he ensures that the natural flavour still comes through in every single ingredient and dish.
A Vegetarian Celebrity Chef
With 7 restaurants in Singapore, Emmanuel Stroobant is probably the first vegetarian celebrity chef on the island. His menus still of course include meat dishes, such as the Roasted Pork Kakuni with Tarragon mustard and pumpkin salad as well as boneless Sakura chicken tempura with orange-chilli dressing and sesame. However, one often finds as well beautiful vegetarian creations, such as stir fried organic green asparagus with almond, salted butter and crispy garlic.
Emmanuel Stroobant is the prime example that being a celebrity chef doesn’t necessarily mean only meat and fish creations. When creating dishes for his menus, he still tastes them, but wouldn’t cook meat or fish for himself. He embraces a new kind of celebrity chef that promotes good food, a healthy lifestyle and sustainable production.