Justin Quek Details His Three-Decade Journey to Culinary Success

Singlehandedly placing Singapore on the global gastronomic map and inspiring an entirely new generation of cooking professionals, Justin Quek shares his experience and journey to culinary success.

Sep 01, 2021 | By Julia Roxan
Justin Quek, Marina Bay Sands

Image: Marina Bay Sands

Discovering his passion for culinary arts at a young age, Justin Quek is one of Asia’s most celebrated chefs, who not only singlehandedly put Singapore on the global gastronomic map but inspired an entirely new generation of cooking professionals.

Adopting a distinctly modern approach to French cuisine which melds the mastery of technique with a delicacy of touch and an occasional deft hint of Chinese heritage, Justin Quek’s three-decade-long career took him on a year-long adventure across Europe, working in the kitchens of some of the most feted Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.

Justin Quek, Marina Bay Sands

Image: Marina Bay Sands

With overwhelming discipline and dedication, he is now the resident Head Chef of ‘JustIN Flavours of Asia’ and ‘Chinoiserie’ at the Shoppes, Marina Bay Sands.

Justin Quek, Marina Bay Sands

Image: Marina Bay Sands

After many experiences in France, Taiwan, China, you have now settled in Singapore. What has changed in the city, food-wise, over the past 20 years?

Singapore has become a world-class city; people are more sophisticated and more affluent, with many international chefs and restaurants settled here to make Singapore a top gourmet city.

Where does your interest for “fusion” dishes come from? You are known as being a master of marrying French and Asian flavors!

When I was training in France back in ’91, I noticed that French cuisine is very delicate. Chinese cuisine is bolder in terms of flavors! I started to study the combination of French and Asian flavors, Chinese and French cuisines are the most sophisticated in terms of techniques, balancing the taste of both creatures is simply elegant! Using European products to cook Asian Style with a European presentation, preparing a French dish with an Asian flavor that was something very new then in the ’90s.

Justin Quek, Marina Bay Sands

Beef Short Ribs with Garlic & Chili. Image: Marina Bay Sands

Tell us more about JustIN overlooking the stunning Bay area …. Quite an amazing spot to experiment with new dishes!

JustIN Flavours of Asia is a perfect location for an outdoor alfresco dining experience with the Singapore Skyline, at JustIN we use the best quality products and cook every dish on order, you can enjoy handcraft cocktails, good bottles of wine with our daily seasonal chef’s specials from the world or local markets.

Justin Quek, Marina Bay Sands

Chef Justin’s Signature Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao. Image: Marina Bay Sands

To friends coming for a dinner at JustIN, what would you recommend as a signature dish?

It’s perfect for bringing your friends from overseas to dine at JustIN, Civic dining at Singapore’s iconic location and luxe Asian cuisine, most dishes are sharing at the table, the must-try at are: Duck Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao, Hokkaido Scallop Har Gow, Kampot White Pepper Lobster, Singapore Chili Crab, Charcoal-grilled Lamb Satay, our signature’s Lobster Hokkien Noodle and many more….

Justin Quek, Marina Bay Sands

JQ Laksa. Image: Marina Bay Sands

You are now famous in the culinary world. What advice would you give to a young chef starting in life?

My advice for young chefs, do not be too eager to raise your position, learn your basic cooking well and stay in one job for at least 2 years to learn the right techniques and cooking skills, worship a mentor to learn from the best. Save some money to taste other chefs’ food.

Justin Quek, Marina Bay Sands

JQ Lamb Satay. Image: Marina Bay Sands

Your favorite Gourmet city in the world?

My favorite gourmet city must be Donostia-San Sebastian, vibrant pintxo bars at the old town, you must try is Chuletones (aged T-bone steak), the best beef I have ever tried.

Your favorite wines?

My favorite wines are French wines, both Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Justin Quek, Marina Bay Sands

JQ Pepper Lobster. Image: Marina Bay Sands

Your favorite holiday destination in Asia to relax and recharge?

Since my wife is a Korean, I enjoy going back to Korea, where I travel with the family, visiting the countryside and seaside, cooking for them, and enjoying the different seasons, especially Spring and Autumn.

If you were to name one mentor who has inspired you, who would that be?

He is Chef Bertrand Langlet, the chef who trained me hard for 2 years at The Oriental Hotel, connected me to work in France as a stage, inspired me to take French…Chef Bertrand, Merci beaucoup!

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