World Gourmet Summit 2012 – Singapore!

As some of you may know, I was in Singapore on the 23rd for the opening night of the 16th World Gourmet Summit 2012.

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It was an incredible privilege to be present at the heart of the World Gourmet Summit event, as this is the opening night where ALL participating local and guest chefs converge in one venue, at the same time.

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For the entire duration of the summit from 23rd of April to 3rd of May 2012, different chefs are based in different venues where on selected days they will be showcasing their culinary ingenuity to invited guests/paying diners during special sessions.

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It’s on such occasions that I’m filled with remorse for cancelling my Citibank credit card!
Other than the listed events above, in the line-up are a host of talented local chefs who will present their skills alongside the visiting luminaries in the World Gourmet Summit’s Epicurean Delights where special lunch and dinner menus will be presented for a limited period. The menus feature specialty dishes by the visiting masterchefs.
Basically, that means 11 days of epicurean delights in these hosting venues as below:

1-Altitude Gallery & Bar
Alkaff Mansion
At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy
Capella Singapore
Clifford, The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore
Conrad Centennial Singapore
Equarius Hotel™, Resorts World™ Sentosa Singapore Forest 森™, Resorts World™ Sentosa Singapore
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Grand Hyatt Singapore
Miele Gallery
New York, Universal Studios Singapore®, Resorts World™ Sentosa Singapore
NOVUS, National Museum of Singapore
Osia, Resorts World™ Sentosa Singapore
Spruce, Bukit Timah Fire Station
Stage 28®, Universal Studios Singapore®, Resorts World™ Sentosa Singapore
The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
The Maritime Experiential Museum™, Resorts World™ Sentosa Singapore
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore

For interested gourmands, do contact the hosting venues above to check on the chefs and corresponding menus offered. This may be your only chance to meet that particular chef that you always wanted! 🙂

Below: Me & Chef Fergus Henderson from St. JOHN Bar and Restaurant, London, United Kingdom. I would love to taste the legendary Chef Fergus’s menu!

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The highlight of the opening night was the Chef á la Minute: A World Gourmet Summit Exclusive!
For this affair, invited media are given a little chat time with each chef and a free hand to ask questions, take pictures and so forth; in short,  simply getting to know all the culinary luminaries better.

Below: The arranged tables and chairs. Each are numbered and you move from your starting table to the next and next till you have met each and every one of them.

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I thought this was a brilliant idea.
A total of 15 visiting chefs hailing from Australia, China, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Peru, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States are involved in the World Gourmet Summit. Also in the line-up are a host of talented local chefs who will present their skills alongside the visiting luminaries. This set-up allows us to speak to these chefs in a relaxed environment and most of them were jovial and as enthusiatic as we are for the World Gourmet Summit 2012.
It was the opening night after all, and all of us were high on the expectations of the adventures and discoveries that lies ahead.
It’s anyone’s guess what the future week will bring but if the previous years were of any indication, those involved are in for a gastronomic ride, as fitting for a World Gourmet Summit. Most sessions are 100% booked and a few high profile galas and dinners are scheduled. Critics, gourmands and your everyday foodie; everyone is excited and the coming week promises to once again redefine Singapore’s gastronomic scene.

My session that night started with renowned British Chef Fergus Henderson (centre) together with Chef Douglas Tay (right).

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Full biography of the chefs are google-able so I’m not going to cut and paste it here. For my interview, I asked for Chef Fergus’s recommendation of a british meal/dish that I must absolutely try if I do have the fortunate chance to visit his restaurant. His reply? Devils’ Kidney on Toast; which coincidental is his birthday breakfast every year!

Chef Fergus is also the author of several culinary publications, including the famous “Nose to Tail Eating – A Kind of British Cooking”, which depicts consuming every part of the swine. Bone marrow, ears, tails. You name it, he has a recipe for it.
God, I love this guy already! :DD

Chef Douglas was quieter, but that was in his bio from the beginning. A typical chef who prefers to let his food do the talking, he was nonetheless convivial and chatty that night. He is also a chef that I know I’ll like, known for his novel out-of -the-box culinary ideas that continually astound guests as he puts together the freshest ingredients to create extraordinary flavours and colours on a plate.

Me & Chef Ian Curley from The European, Melbourne, Australia.

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Chef Ian is an astute chef. We asked if there’s any new trends in the dining scene, whether in Australia and anywhere else and his reply was “Cooking now is not just about being able to create terrific dishes, but also entails good PR and marketing. For example, being on TV helps. Having said that, having passion for  anything you embark upon is still the key”. Chef Ian Curleyhimself was on a show titled “Conviction Kitchen” that was aired early 2011.

Any star dish? His cheeky comeback “I’m a humble person. I don’t have any star dish”. Anyhow, further probing revealed that he is famed for his terraine. And if there’s a dessert that’s an absolute must-try, it’s his Chocolate Salted Caramel dessert.

Next is a German Wine Queen. Yes, for real, a Wine Queen. I was mighty curious about this one. Is she some royalty?
Far Right: Annika Strebel, German Wine Queen.

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Apparently no. A German Wine Queen is selected yearly in a process almost alike a pageant. Young wine sommeliers from the country submit their applications and the winner for the current year will replace the previous year’s. Criteria for selection is based on knowledge of wines and so forth.

Left: Chef Pietro D’Agostino from La Capinera Ristorante, Taormina, Italy. Right: Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo, Boutique Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore.

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I had fun with these 2! It must be the Spanish charm. Chef Pietro specialises in Sicilian while Chef Lino specilises in South Italian cuisine. And to ensure that their menu are as authentic as possible for the World Gourmet Summit week, they have bought in a lot of produce from their country. Chef Lino showed us fresh fennel, fennel seeds, wild juniper and fresh oregano, which are some of the popular herbs and spices used in their cooking. Though some of these herbs may seem common, both chefs assured me that these has a unique and intense flavour unlike the usual ones.

So what we expect from Sicilian cuisine? Seafood, says Chef Pietro. And a lot of tomatoes, herbs, all as fresh as possible. Sicilian cuisine is unpretentious and one can expect a lot of grandmothers’ cooking style.

A dessert lover, I was most curious about Janice Woon. When queried on her must-try creation, she recommended a Black Garlic Cheesecake with Peanut Butter. I was so struck with astonishment that her subsequent remarks went unrecorded. I think she said something about it tasting of umami and savouriness that went very well with the creamcheese.

I mentioned at some point about “waist-friendly” dessert and she’s got that covered too! Kayambe H20 – an unconventional creation of 50% chocolate and 50% water. I seriously need to visit 2am:lab to sample this myself SOON!

Right: Chef Janice Wong from 2am : dessertbar in Holland Village Singapore.

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From Left: Chef Paco Roncero from La Terraza del Casino, Madrid, Spain. Chef Dani Garcia from Calima Restaurante, Marbella , Spain. Chef Jakob Esko from The Knolls, Capella Singapore.

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It’s the Spanish passion I tell you. This was another entertaining trio to interview. Chef Jakob has built up an impressive portfolio by working in some of the best Michelin-Star restaurants in England, France, Spain and Switzerland. He has since developed a broad knowledge of modern European and Mediterranean cooking styles apart from his strong background in Scandinavian cuisine.
Chef Paco is considered the highest representative of avant garde cuisine in Madrid. Oh man, I wonder what sort of dishes to expect! For this interview, time was too short as there were 3 chefs and I didn’t managed to ask all my questions!
Then we have Chef Dani, whose from Southern Spain. He said cuisine from Spain can be VERY varied and the Spanish cuisine we all know are more from Catalonia. Thus Andalusia cuisine is different. He did mention that most of their seafood are fried.

Left: Chef Ku Keung from Golden Peony, Conrad Centennial Singapore.

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Chef Ku Keung will have MasterChef Albert Tse of Conrad Tokyo as a guest chef and Golden Peony, Conrad Centennial is the venue for the World Gourmet Summit Sabre DÓr Dinner on May 3rd at 7pm. This lavish dinner is also the closing dinner for the WGS 2012. Expect to be blown away as 3 masterchefs are the masterminds for dinner that night!
This is a dinner I’m dying to attend but was informed that it’s fully booked! 🙁

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Chef Susur Lee actually remembered me from the Hennessy Appreciation Grows Dinner last year! I was thrilled that he did, knowing how appreciative diners that he would have met on his tours.

Over our interview, I got him to recommend his must-try dishes at My Humble House. The first was the Stuffed Indo Big Claw Crab with Abalone in Claypot. The dish is succulent and light while the rich gravy is a stock made from pork, chicken and ham. Another is their Beggar Chicken. This is a traditional dish that was given a few tweaks. The chicken is marinated and debone and its meat restuffed into its cavity. The chicken is then wrapped in lotus leaf, baking parchment paper and baked. To enhance the taste further, chinese wine is added.
Being greedy and since Chef Ken Ling and Chef Susur was so accommodating, I asked for a signature dessert.. Chef Ken Ling (who has worked with Chef Susur for 14 years) shared this; a sweet dessert soup with juices extracted from organic fruits. Watermelon, pomelo and candied melon are steamed, compressed to extract the juices and the end result is a soup. Chef Ken spoke in rapid Mandarin (or was it Cantonese) and due to my poor grasp of the language, I’m sure I missed out some steps he shared! Anyhow, I hope I got the information correct.

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Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Restaurant & Bar Malabar, Lime Peru.

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PERUVIAN cuisine. My first experience with it was at Ristretto Cafe in Mt Kiara didn’t leave a memorable impression at all. But when I asked Chef Pedro what is the signature dish of Peru, his immediate reply was “Ceviche”,  a seafood dish where the raw seafood is “cooked” with lime and lemon juice. Well, I had that! But I would love to sample REAL Peruvian cuisine by a true blue Peruvian chef!
Chef Pedro’s cuisine fuses Peruvian ingredients with contemporary techniques.  For WGS, he bought in 80% of his ingredients direct from Peru. A few he rattled off that evening was an algae that grows 3500m above sea level on the Andes. Another is a Maca root, that’s alike our horseradish. Chef Pedro also stated that chilli in Peruvian cuisine is more for flavour rather than for spiciness.

Chef Manjunath Mural, the Song of India.

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This particular session stood out simple because he’s the only Indian chef and The Song of India is the only participating Indian restaurant. This is their first year hosting WGS although they have been participating for numerous years prior. The Song of India would also be hosting the super hot 1 Michelin Star Chef Vikas from US, which I will be meeting in person on 27th April for tea! I CAN’T WAIT! 🙂

One can’t have a gourmet event without the French right?
Chef Bruno Menard is a firm believer in neo-classic French cuisine. I asked for the explanation of that term and he illustrated it using an example. In France one of their classic dish is fish with roasted almonds and lemon juice. Having worked in Japan for some time, he recreated this dish using Trout from Mt Fuji, where the pristine waters gave the fish its clean taste. Instead of almonds, he substituted macadamias and soya sauce salt. Sudachi, a small but flavourful lime in Japan replaced the lemon. And thus a traditional dish is given a modern twist but still recognizably French. Brilliant!

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So we have it. The chefs I met and chatted with that evening. All of them were very accommodating with pictures requests and our queries. It was an euphoric feeling, being in the midst of such high caliber and accomplished chefs.

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But what about food? We have seen and met the chefs, but we haven’t tasted any of their dishes!

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Well, that’s where we were escorted to New York St in Universal Studios.

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Booth after booth serves hot, delicious and gourmet platters of food, all adeptly prepared by the chefs from each participating restaurant.

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This is foie gras yogurt, with a layer of blueberry mousse on top. I must have polished off 5 of these! 🙂

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Wines and alcohol flowed freely and as you can see, there were happy guests all around.

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I was a very happy gourmand for sure! *Burps*

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Anyone want to take a guess what’s this?

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Thése are champagne “bubbles”!
The chef above “pipes” liquid champagne into the pot above and spoons out little spheres as below. The outer shell is flimsy but holds its shape till it comes in contact with your tongue. Then it burst and cold champagne floods your mouth cavity. Amazing! 🙂

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One last picture; me & Chef Pietro D’Agostino from La Capinera Ristorante, Taormina, Italy.

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At the end of the night, I was on cloud nine! :DD

I was sad to leave and wished I could attend every event throughout the WGS duration. Anyhow, I’ll be back tomorrow for the Citibank Gastronomic Jam Sessions so you can expect more updates on WGS here.
Any questions for me? 🙂

UPDATE: World Gourmet Summit 2012 – Citibank Gastronomic Jam Session –> HERE.

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