I finally fulfilled my personal wish of cooking in a professional cooking studio. And that experience is none other at ToTT, opened to the public just slightly over a month ago in October. ToTT – meaning Tools of The Trade, located at the Sime Darby Building in Dunearn Road, was set up by Singapore’s own home-grown kitchen equipment company Sia Huat. The kitchen and lifestyle store itself is huge with access to various culinary tools and knick knacks, professional cooking studios, and even a range of chef’s hat to choose from. And you might even exit the store with the skill to whip up a dish of tasty looking Peranakan Curry Chicken!
The tagline for ToTT stand prominently as “Cook.Bake.Host” essentially summarizing the store’s main concept. The cooking studio programmes come in two forms of Demonstration and Hands-On. Each session can hold up to 70 and 12 students respectively. Familiar names such as Malcolm Lee, Celeste Chew and Ernst Huber are on the programme and there are different lessons in store each month.
And especially with Christmas in just less than one month away, you can even sign up for a lesson to learn a “Christmas Lunch for 12 by Ernst Huber” or even engage in “Hand Dipped Chocolate Treats by Annette Tan”. The skill experiences required for each lesson varies from Novice to Enthusiast to the Semi-Pro. Though from my experience at yesterday session with Chef Malcolm Lee of The Candlenut Kitchen, the more important requisite is to enjoy cooking and have fun!
Malcolm’s session entitled “Singapore Classics – Classic Peranakan Cuisine with Modern Techniques” was a hands-on cum demonstration on how to use the full extent of kitchen technology to create that fine dish of familiar and delicious Nyonya cooking. Technique like “Sous-Vide” or French for cooking food at select temperatures in a water bath while under vacuum in a sealed bag was employed to recreate that sumptuous and tender dish of Peranakan Curry Chicken. And of course, if you prefer the Old School way of cooking, there is always the traditional method of simmering the dish over the hob till perfect.
The session was meticulous with a step by step procedure lasting slightly over 3 hours. All the ingredients are provided, and all I needed to do was to prepare and cook under the guidance of Malcolm. Even the art of deboning the chicken was taught, and now I can say I am close to mastering the skill. Being steeped in Peranakan culture myself, this session was familiar to the way I see my Grandma Helen cook. The ingredients, tediously prepared and pounded to form that perfect rempah is not an easy task itself. But of course, with the invention of the food processor, I guess things are just made easier.
As Malcolm said, for Peranakan cooking, there are still no shortcuts towards the end product as though the preparation gets shorter, the process in which the dish is made still remains authentically the same. And yes, I stood over the frying pan drying my “rempah” paste for a good 20 minutes.
Peranakan Curry Chicken
For the lesson, Malcolm taught three dishes, Curry Chicken; Ngoh Hiang and the ubiquitous Sambal Belachan. Though of the recipes which I learnt, that is for a separate article. Now, I think its enough to just enjoy the mouthwatering pictures of what I created at ToTT Cooking Studio with Chef Malcolm Lee.
Chef Malcolm’s special recipe for Ngoh Hiang
And I believe all the participants had a great fun time. Imagine us walking out smelling like pieces of toasted belachan all over. But the experience and knowledge was well worth it.
Enjoy the pictures in my album below!
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About Chef Malcolm Lee : First Singaporean recipient of the Miele Guide Scholarship and topping his cohort in the At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy, one of his apprenticeships was at Le St Julien where his skills were refined and insight gained into the culinary world. Now chef-owner of The Candlenut Kitchen, Chef Malcolm seeks to serve authentic Peranakan cuisine with a twist-using refined and modern techniques such as Sous Vide cooking.
Many Thanks to Danielle and Sihui from ATE Consulting for the invitation.
896 Dunearn Road
Tel : 6219 7077
Opens from :