Chef Zor Tan on the Birth of Restaurant Born to its Debut as #36 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023
The heritage building situated on the corner of Tanjong Pagar and Neil Road is the home to Chef Zor Tan and his unparalleled culinary philosophies at Restaurant Born.
Born is a rising star in the fine-dining within the modern Lion City. Serving contemporary cuisines, the restaurant pays homage to the philosophy of the Circle of Life, the interlinking of every aspect of one's human experience in their life. To Chef Zor Tan, it is about embracing his childhood influences from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and China; his professional career working in Macau and under the mentor Chef Andre Chiang; as well as his personal life as a son husband, father, chef and mentor. Though Chef Tan gave birth to the existence of Born, the restaurant also gave birth to a new chapter in Chef Tan’s culinary journey.
The menu expresses the chef’s perception of nine principles: Birth, Roots, Memories, Craft, Relationship, Vicissitudes, Time, Progress, and Legacy. Like the Circle of Life, the experience tells the story of his ‘best life’. And with the recent debut of the restaurant as 36 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023, it is safe to say that he is living his best life.
Here, Chef Tan shares some afterthoughts on Born and its celebratory success.
1. How would you describe your cooking philosophy?
At Born, we celebrate the ‘Circle of Life’ – a culmination of my memories, professional journey, and personal ideals in an experience that encourages the diner to ‘live in the moment’. My contemporary cuisine brings together the elegance and subtlety of French cuisine with my heritage and Chinese flavours to bridge culinary cultures. It is an expression of my own identity through my food.
2. What is the inspiration behind restaurant Born?
Born represents the birth of a brand new me; the decision to leave my mentor chef who I worked with for 11 years, and the momentous step to start my very own project. When something ends, something new begins.
It encapsulates the feelings of happiness, excitement, and great anticipation – reflective of the emotions of waiting for the birth of a new baby. I want this feeling – the ‘happiness of birth’ that personally resonates with me, to also be enjoyed by guests who dine at Born, and that the time they spend at the restaurant are their best moments yet.
3. What do you hope to bring to the culinary scene of Singapore with Born?
I hope to add to the vibrancy Singapore’s culinary scene with my own unique identity, through my culture, heritage, and style of cooking that are expressed at Born.
Born is also a platform for me to create with new eyes, express my story and memories, showcase my craft, and define my own voice – my own culinary identity.
"Born is also a platform for me to create with new eyes, express my story and memories, showcase my craft, and define my own voice – my own culinary identity."
- Chef Zor Tan
4. Congratulations on Born’s debut as #36 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023. How has opening and running your restaurant been?
It has been a rollercoaster ride so far with highs and lows that are both challenging yet fulfilling. Each milestone is just as meaningful as the other; they signify our hard work coming to fruition. It’s a never ending journey though, and we are mindful not to rest on our laurels, so we continue to push to reach the level of standards that we have set for ourselves to constantly refine the dining experience.
5. What has been your biggest takeaway from Born?
Planning, launching and running my own restaurant in these present times has not been easy – it’s been eye opening and rewarding, learning to manage all aspects of the business. As we [celebrated] our first year anniversary in June and I look back at a most eventful past 10 months, it’s truly the people (both talents of the next generation and guests) and relationships forged that allow us to open our doors every day – without them, there wouldn’t be a Born.
6. How would you describe the dining experience at Born?
I would like that every moment at Born is a happy one for diners – their best moment yet – the ‘best of right now’.
All imagery is provided by Born.