Listen to JAG restaurant founders, Jeremy and Anant, talk with us about the ideology behind the concept, the advice they’d give their younger selves, and the side bet that has these two friends pushing to towards getting in shape.. in this edition of Duxton Stories.
Hey guys! Thanks for having us. We’re excited to find out more about you and your journey. First off, tell us a bit about yourselves and the restaurant.
Jeremy: Welcome to JAG! I’m the chef and owner of the place, with my friend Anant there.
Anant: Me and Jeremy together own JAG, which stands for ‘Jeremy Anant Gastronomy’. Little bit about me: I’m from India, but fortunately my career and education has brought me all over the world, and Singapore has been home for about 10 years. It has now truly become home. This is where Jeremy and I met, and we became friends first over a substantial amount of ‘non-alcoholic beverages’. And that friendship has led to us wanting to do a business together and that is what has led to JAG.
Jeremy: I’m originally from Normandy, France. I lived for 14 years in Savoie, where I was in love with the region, and got the opportunity to move and continue in Singapore, where I met with Anant, and I liked the idea of building something with my friend. I feel we have the same vision of F&B and that brought us together to make a small home.
What inspired you to start JAG?
Jeremy: We were discussing doing something together full time, exchanging different ideas, different concepts, visions of what will be where, and how. And we were in… what was it?
Anant: Terra. Terra at Suntec City, now closed.
Jeremy: I was in this jacket with my initials ‘JG’, for Jeremy Gillion, and I started to joke that if i just put ‘A’ in the middle you get JAG. We kept that and, of course, moved forward with Jeremy Anant Gastronomy. I moved to Singapore, Anant left his job at Artemis, and we took seven months to find everything and build our restaurant.
Anant: I mean, JAG, just the name coming about was a really short but fun conversation. We thought of names like Effervescence, Epicurean and whatnot, but we were, like, that’s great but it has to be catchy and it has to be something easy for everyone to say. When as a joke he said JAG, immediately I thought of Jaguars and I’m a huge fan of 1972-y type Jags, and it represents craftsmanship, hand-made stuff. Immediately I was like, this is something anyone can say. ‘Where are you going to? JAG’. JAG stuck and over a period of time it has become something completely different, something that has taken on a different meaning for us. Jeremy Anant Gastronomy, yes, but this is also our home.
Has your approach to business changed from when you first opened shop to present day?
Jeremy: I would say not really.
Anant: Breaking it down into two, our ideology has remained the same. Our focus has always been on accommodation, not education, in the dining room. But our day to day decisions, our strategic decisions, where our business is going, change on a monthly basis. We’ve had to pivot and adapt to the street, changing business scene around us, new tenancies around us, the hotel next door to us being here, and now Marriott Autograph collection coming, which is amazing news. All of these things have an impact on all of the businesses on the street here, so our reaction to that has had to change. But the core values have remained the same.
Jeremy: And we learn as well all the time, the changes we go through for our education and what you learn from that experience.
Next question, what are you most excited about right now?
Jeremy: Right now? As usual, I think our motto - still keeping the same (values) while changing a lot of our thinking, our process… thanks to Covid, we at JAG have decided to operate differently. We closed lunch and operate more dinners to bring proper experience, and more people come for a real experience. And since quarantine we are very good at reacting to that. But what makes us very happy is the progress and seeing that we have no limits. It’s happiness every day, we try as much as we can.
Anant: I have a very different answer from him. So about one month ago we were having drinks at Vue, and we made a bet with each other - with moderators and other witnesses - that in one year, which is 26th of June, who loses a greater percentage of weight, and the person who loses buys the other person a ticket and a meal to wherever they want to go and we selected five countries. I am so going to beat him but the way he’s been doing for the last five days, I’m very scared. He’s going on 50 kilometre bicycle rides and whatnot. I’m very excited about that, that is motivating us to go be healthy almost every day.
Jeremy: He keeps me ‘healthy’. Makes me drink.
Anant: So that’s exciting. We’re looking forward to this one year of being healthy, then we will break fast of sorts in either Bangkok or Hong Kong or Taiwan or Japan.
Jeremy: I will tell you.
Anant: Let’s see.
Okay guys, and this is the last question: what advice would you give to your younger selves?
Jeremy: Be passionate. Just do and don’t get focused on the wrong things. Continue to believer, for everything in or outside of the kitchen, I believe in just doing what you love to do. Don’t try to overdo it and try to do so many things that you don’t appreciate what you do. So just… be passionate about what you do.
Anant: I would say, sometimes when you are younger it may not make sense to you but at that time you are faced with small defeats at time and those defeats demoralise you. But in the larger scheme of things, five years down the road you won’t even remember those things, they are also insignificant. So one should not let small things demoralise them, one should have an approach towards always moving forward and learn from the challenges or defeats or failures you’ve had. There is something to learn from all of them. But a young person will not realise that, you’ve got to be older and slightly wiser to look back and have this conversation but… if I could, at that stage I would tell myself that. I would have a lot less white hair, and he would have hair.
Jeremy: Not sure about that.