Sommelier Ignatius Chan of Iggy's - Biography


May 2013

When asked what he drinks on his nights off, the award-winning sommelier, restaurateur, and founder of Iggy’s, Ignatius Chan slyly replies, “Yes.” The wine cellar at his landmark restaurant at The Hilton Hotel in Singapore holds 25,000 bottles, and Chan currently has 8,000 labels on his list. The opened-minded and convivial entrepreneur adheres to one important mantra when selecting pairings for a menu: “It’s never absolute, and it’s all relative.” It has taken a career that spans nearly three decades to develop that simple yet supremely wise sommelier rule to live by.

Chan began his professional life as a waiter at Singapore’s historic Goodwood Park Hotel. He pursued a formal culinary education after receiving sponsorship from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to attend courses at the Singapore Hotel Association Training and Education Centre. Upon graduation, Chan continued his career at the Mandarin, where he worked in the hotel’s French restaurant, Fourchettes. In 1989, his diligence and dedication began to bear professional fruit. Chan won a scholarship to stage at the Ritz-Carlton in Madrid, Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, and Hôtel Royal Champagne in Reims. During this time he also toured and studied in Beaujolais, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. The next year he won a second scholarship: the prestigious Veuve Cliquot Champagne Scholarship, and in 1991 he became the cellar master at Raffles Hotel, playing a key role in the reopening of their Grand Dame restaurant. Chan is the first Asian member of the Grand Jury Européen and in 1999 was inducted into the Jurade de Saint-Emilion.

The last time Chan worked for someone besides himself was as executive director of Vinum Fine Wine Merchants. He left that position to open Iggy’s in 2004 at The Regent Hotel. Since then, the restaurant has doubled in size (mainly increasing in kitchen space) and moved to the Hilton. Chan has been a prominent and influential player on the world culinary stage ever since.