If you peep into the kitchen of Bistro November early in the mornings, you just might be able to catch sight of chef John-Paul Fiechtner dancing like nobody is watching to some “really uncool pop song” while preparing for breakfast service. The chef, fondly known as JP, admits that this genre of music perks him up for the gruelling day ahead. And it is a long day indeed as Bistro November, which is a six-month pop-up that has taken over the space of restaurant Ember, is open all day, five days a week. Yes, diners can swing by for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even coffee in between meals.
Bistro November is helmed by JP and Sally Humble, the restaurant’s sommelier and JP’s partner. The Australian pair moved over to Singapore last year to open up the much raved-about but now-defunct, 13 Duxton Hill. At their new space on the ground floor of Hotel 1929, the pair have a much bigger kitchen to work with than at 13 Duxton Hill and accordingly more kitchen staff.
Music is essential to set the atmosphere in the kitchen, JP notes, and he believes in sharing playtime. Humble chimes in, “The music [in the kitchen] is everybody’s, that’s why the kind of music tends to range from Adele to Justin Bieber, as we take turns to play our favourites.”
What kind of songs to do you like to listen to in the kitchen?
Sally said I need to sound cooler than I really am. But my favourite pre-service song is actually Taylor Swift’s Shake it off, to get energised and pumped up before the rush of service. Generally, I listen to The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones. Beach Boys has been on the playlist constantly in my kitchens – they just have the oomph. There’s not really a specific song I always listen to in the kitchen to be honest. The best thing about Spotify is that they help you shuffle and discover new songs as well, right?
Do you sing while you cook?
Sometimes, if I’m by myself, usually during breakfast shift early in the morning, after I’ve had just three hours of sleep and I need to perk myself up. It’ll be some teeny bopper type thing and I’ll be jumping around the kitchen when no one is around. No one needs to know that.