Tag Archives: molecular gastronomy

Masterclass with Chef Andre Chiang

Chef Andre Chiang

D came home from one day to excitedly tell me that one of the boys he plays soccer with, and who works at the Asian Food Channel, had told him about a masterclass series that AFC were organising.  The first one was with Chef Andre Chiang and we went last night to the AFC studio on level 7 of Orchard Central to watch the chef in action.

Coincidentally, D had the pleasure of eating at Restaurant Andre last week for a friend’s birthday, and which I missed out on because I was in Sydney, so he was familiar with the sort of food that was going to be cooked last night.  Me, on the other hand, was left to discover Chef Andre’s method of combining flavours that I would never have dreamed would work, but absolutely did.

Heirloom tomato gazpacho with vanilla oil and basil flowers

The first dish was an heirloom tomato gazpacho with vanilla oil and basil flower.  Chef Andre was friendly and comfortable in front of an audience, and walked us through the recipe, peppered with hints on how to get the best out of the dish.  In his own restaurant everything is done by taste and not by recipe, and these hints helped flesh out the recipe and gave us all hope that we could recreate the intensely flavoured, perfectly sweet/acid balanced dish, at home.

36-hour braised short rib with mushroom fricasee and celeriac-apple mousse

The second dish was a 36-hour braised short rib with fricasee mushrooms and celeriac -apple mousse.  Again, Chef Andre talked us through the composition of the food, how he prefers to prepare his food (simply, nothing fancy, letting the produce be the star).  We got to sample each dish he demonstrated, thanks to a team of invisible chefs in the back room.  This dish was delectable.  The braised short rib was meltingly tender and was perfectly balanced with the celeriac and apple mousse, which was lighter than a potato mash (although served with a potato on top).

Snickers 2011

The final dish was snickers 2011 (too hard to explain on an already lengthy post but think coffee/chocolate/hazelnut flavours).  It was about as close to molecular gastronomy as you can come without actually calling it that.  Watching him cook it was fascinating and my love of science and chemistry made the demonstration so interesting to watch.  Not sure I would actually cook this at home, it was far too complicated and my home cooking has seen me move to simple dishes that mean I can spend time with my friends rather than in the kitchen, but the final product was gorgeous.  I will happily let the experts do all the work and sit in their restaurant to eat works of art like this.

The session was such an enjoyable way to spend a Monday night.  The food was amazing, and paired perfectly with wines from the South of France.  It made me want to get to Restaurant Andre quick smart to sample more delights from this young and talented chef,  and also inspired me to invite friends over for dinner to try to recreate these dishes at home.  Loved it.

A tipple at Tippling Club

Well we did not partake of the matching cocktail menu along with our degustation – we had Henriot, Brut Souverain NV champagne and a lovely Domaine Roger and Perrin Chateauneuf du Pape 2006 but when chef Ryan Clift explained some of them to us, we certainly were intrigued.  A dazzling selection of the weirdest and most wonderful cocktail concoctions were available, but we stuck to what we knew (and left the drinking to the very loud Americans seated a few chairs away from us).

Tippling Club is somewhere D has wanted to try for as long as it’s been around and we finally went there for his birthday this year, with Kelly and Joe, our favourite foodie friends.

We’d read the reviews, mostly good, some bad and to be honest, I have to say that the food by itself does not, for me, anyway, make it a worthwhile experience.

The venue itself is odd. Tucked away next to its sister company, House, the place is walled by plastic sheets with a large, poorly lit counter and some tables for which I have no idea would be used for – The Saturday night we were there there were ten other patrons, all seated at the counter.

The four of us were seated at the corner counter, which meant that we were sat just that little bit far away from each other, which I think makes it not conducive for discussing the food, which is what it’s about, for me. Food for me is something that should be shared, rarely enjoyed alone, but then perhaps that is only me.

The music choice was absolutely terrible. They had a DJ outside who played music that was then piped into the restaurant and it was a) too loud for that intimate kind of atmosphere and b) just horrible – music and food have such an integral part to play in enjoyment of both and the music that was playing was jarring and repetitive. I think another patron complained and it was changed but still nothing which complemented the restaurant at all.

The waitstaff in general were very very good. Attentive and discrete, they explained the menu (there is the local, five course menu, or the more french inspired, ten course menu. The chef, Ryan Clift, was kind enough to say that as the restaurant was not that busy, he would “allow” us to select a combination of the two – usually everyone in the group had to order the same menu.

Ryan Clift is an intense, very serious individual and his partner Matthew Bax was just uncomfortably friendly.

Matthew seemed to try to make conversation with us as he was serving our wine, but somehow it just came across as very insincere.

Ryan, on the other hand, although I think takes himself and his art far too seriously (although I suspect all “artists” do and at least Tippling Club has withstood the test of still being around in Singapore after a few years with no sign of closing).  He explained that his new menu was going to be inspired by the pairing of food tastes and smells and that he was recently awarded a grant from the government to explore the olfactory promotion of food.

I’m flipflopping a bit here as I’m trying to capture our experience which of course is incomplete without some mention of the food.

Matthew was very quick to say that chef Clift DID NOT CONSIDER his food “molecular gastromony”, despite the fact that the food is prepared in exactly this way – learning the science behind the food and serving foods in unexpected flavours and textures.

The food itself was certainly interesting.  I cannot in all honesty say I loved all of it but I appreciated the work that went behind creating some of the dishes and would have liked to hear more of what went into preparing the food than simply just telling us what we were eating as it was served.

The Amouse Bouche has been written up many times – the fizzy grapes, calamari with a basil emulsion, charred green peppers with a soy wasabi and iberico ham which, let’s face it, you can’t go wrong with.  Fizzy grapes, were fairly unimpressive but again, if someone had explained to us how this was really different from soaking grapes in champagne, it might have helped.  The calamari rings were cold and greasy and chewy but oh my goodness, that basil emulsion.  Superb.  So much flavour and completely unexpected way of drinking it through the straw.

Second course was a 62 degree poached egg served with bacon mayonnaise, with thyme, parmesan crisps and roasted tomato puree.  I am not a fan of “googie” eggs.  For some reason I need my yolks to be solid (I know, heathen) but this was absolutely perfectly cooked and you had the sensation of a whole cooked breakfast in your mouth.  Wonderful.

Third course was seared Hokkaido scallops, servied with braised fresh aloe vera in soya sauce, peanuts and a film of vinegar.  Scallops are one of my favourite things in the world (although I do indulge in them due to them being unsustainably fished) – the scallops themselves were lovely but all that palaver around it was pretty unecessary and some things, like the peanuts, simply didn’t work well with the rest.  The braised aloe vera just added the flavour of salt and I found that all too overpowering for something as delicate and light as the scallops.

Fourth course was a foie gras … mousse… I guess?  It was more solid than a mouse and wrapped around a sour cherry sauce which actually was really lovely – except that it was served on a bed of overly salty eight spice crumble and cherries on the side.  The crumble would have worked if it weren’t so damn salty – foie gras to me should always just be served with sweet things, like a sautern sauce, or apples or raisins – I think the sour and sweet of the cherries along with the over seasoned crumble took away from the flavour of the foie gras.

Next course was a lobster where the ravioli was like very thick rice paper – it almost dissolved in the consomme which was poured over the ravioli.  Very nice, again, but too much consomme made it really messy to eat.

The next course was gorgeous – before this course we had some time with the chef who we were asking about his various experimental looking creations in the kitchen.  I have to say that it’s great to see the creator at work, and he explained that the government had given him a sizeable grant to work on how food and smells work in conjunction with each other.  So when the vegetables came, with a layer of “porcini soil” on top, that was impressive enough, but the chef came along and sprayed an atomiser of “the smell of the humidity in the garden” – it was incredible !  He also mentioned that he was changing his menu to have winter vegetables and a colder “smell”.

The next was a palate cleanser called “no-J” – orange tasting juice with pulp but with no oranges !

Main course was a grade 9 wagyu with beetroot and coppa ham which was fairly unmemorable, but only because it was marred by the chef serving us an extra, off the menu dish of seared top grade wagyu – from one of the cows that had actually been fed beer and massaged !  I have to admit, I think we got the extra course because they thought I was some sort of secret food critique because we were asking so many questions.  But wouldn’t everyone that went ?  That’s the beauty of this sort of establishment – the wonder of the food concoctions.

First dessert was a forgetable nitro ice something with jackfruit  and pomelo, but the next was a winner – chef’s interpretation of lemon meringue pie with no egg, butter or flour – it also happens to be one of my favourite desserts and it was suberb. Final dessert was a pear tartin sorbet with a pear jelly outside of the sorbet, to look like the shape of a pear.  This was served with a puff pastry crumble and a taglietelle of pear that the boys said reminded them of the smell of leather shoes.

I did like the fact that they asked us for our details (they didn’t ask for any feedback) and the next day we received an email from them thanking us for coming and sharing a cocktail recipe with us.

Overall, I wouldn’t rush back to Tippling Club, but I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, or perhaps because something as special as this isn’t something you want to do again in a hurry. It IS a little on the wanky side – there is a strict no photo policy and they just seem a little full of themselves – which I might accept from the chef but from his partner the wine guy ??