Each chef in the kitchen is a Master of his own Art. Every creation is a representation of his ideals, his imagination, and his experiences. It is often wondered where every Chef gets his inspiration from. Be it from listening to heavy metal in the mornings whilst practicing yoga, or by the savoury hunger sense in the tummy probably fueled by that warm image from the past, every dish has one aim – To recreate that moment through taste. At The St. Regis Hotel last Saturday, 8 celebrity chefs came together to create interpretations of their favourite childhood memory. That moment when they as a child, were touched by a strong influence, and contributing into becoming masters of cuisine.

The 8 course degustation charity cookathon was in support of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund for The Little Arts Academy. Originating from a strong conviction that no child with strong interest and artistic potential should be deprived of the opportunity to develop his or her talents because of being financially disadvantaged, the fund aims to enables children to pursue and develop their artistic talents. For the afternoon through the ticketed proceeds, the cookathon raised $20, 000.

The inaugural Celebrity Chefs Charity Cookathon organised and main sponsored by De Dietrich and sponsored by various partners, lasted from 1pm to 7pm held at the John Jacob Ballroom, The St. Regis Hotel. Each of the 8 creations on stage are a personal recipe inspired by each chef’s fondest memory as a child, and they are simple to recreate at home.

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For the afternoon on Saturday, here are the 8 participating chefs :

  • Andre Chiang, Andre
  • Diego Chiarini, OSO Ristorante
  • Francois Mermilliod, Absinthe
  • Frederic Colin, Brasserie Les Saveurs, The St. Regis Singapore
  • Julien Bompard, Le Saint Julien
  • Ryan Clift, The Tippling Club
  • Laurent Bernard, Laurent Bernard Chocolatier
  • Janice Wong, 2am: dessertbar

To start off, we had Chef Diego Chiarini from OSO Ristorante crafting his Home made “Tortelli” Pasta Filled with Lamb and Cold Balsamic Sabayon. The pasta was made from scratch using the nifty little pasta maker which took much time off the traditional method of kneading and rolling. But the highlight comes when Diego infuses the tortelli by wrapping it around a portion of chopped seasoned lamb and quickly boiling it in salted water for five minutes and its done.

Diego chooses to shape his pasta like a Robin Hood’s hat from the 12th century as he has a “vivid” memory of a lady preparing pasta while keeping a mindful eye for her playful kid running about the kitchen noisily. He imagines himself as that very kid, giving his playful rendition to this dish while retaining the savoury warmth of each bite.

 

Chef Andre Chiang of ANDRE creation up next was the Braised Beef, Aromatic Charcoal, Fresh Herbs and Mustard. This is probably one of the most time consuming dishes as seen from the recipe booklet as it takes up to 5 hours for just the beef short ribs to cook till tender in the veal stock. Still, the technique choice of braising the beef is inspired from his favourite braised beef dish he used to have as a child, where he feels that it will never fail to brighten up the day in a simple but luxurious manner.

One of my favourites for the afternoon, the braised beef was remarkably soft and tender with the marbled fat melting in the mouth in an explosion of browned meaty taste and robust flavours. The accompaniment of crushed seasoned water chestnuts lightened the dish in a crisp refreshing manner.

This is one dish that I will have to create myself one day. Chef Francois Mermilliod of Absinthe marveled the crowd with his Roasted Quail with Parma Ham and Mushroom Stuffing, Celeriac Mash. In essence from start to end, it took no longer than an estimated 15 minutes. And the infusion of flavours from the deep earthy mushroom to the unique saltiness from the parma ham, is well received into the portions of quail when pan fried. As a child in France, Francois’s grandfather would hunt the quail and serve the dish on Sunday lunch. It was originally stuffed with wild mushroom and wrapped in lard before being roasted, and is a warm memory of the autumn seasons he had.

Chef Frederic Colin of Brasserie Les Saveurs, The St. Regis Singapore, has always been fascinated at seafood. As a child, he used to frequent Marche (the French Markets) with his grandfather who was a chef in Paris, and would always be excited with the fresh seafood on display. At the cookathon, he crafted out his Lightly Salted Cod, Shellfish and Fresh Hazelnut. Crisp light taste go all around, with flavours all natural and minimal seasonings for that sea fresh authenticity.

Chef Julien Bompard of Le Saint Julien was up next with his Medley of Duck with Mashed Potato and Mustard Emulsion. Of the whole cookathon, Julien was probably the most entertaining chef with his witty remarks and humorous character. For him, the basic pair of meat and mashed potatoes (made with lots and lots of butter) has always been a perfect match. The medley of Smoked duck breast, duck leg confit and rillettes gave a slightly salty and meaty base as it slowly seeps in the cream and dijon mustard surrounding it. Topping off the entire presentation would be a good dollop of mashed potatoes which were silky smooth, light and creamy. A perfect combination? Mmm.

Chef Ryan Clift of The Tippling Club, chose to create his Sea Bass with 4 Textures of Cauliflower. Cauliflower has always been a strong ingredient and probably a part of his life. Remembering his mum’s cauliflower cheese, it was one dish that would always bring back memories of home and liven his spirits. He dedicates the Sea Bass with 4 Textures of Cauliflower to his mum. The sea bass is cooked sous vide with the cauliflower prepared 4 ways : Green, Crunchy, Pickled, Pureered. A fascinating combination, and I never knew cauliflower could be prepared as such.

But alas, I could not stay for the entire cookathon. As much as I would have loved to stay to witness Chef Laurent Bernard of Laurent Bernard Chocolatier Crispy Hazelnut Chocolate Tart and Chef Janice Wong of 2am: dessertbar Rocher Magnums. Salty Caramel creations, I had to leave early as I was bringing my grandma and the family to Todai at Marina Bay Sands.

The cookathon was a great experience, and it gave a peek into the personal sides of each chef of their fondest childhood moments.  I guess for all of them, those moments must have been inspirations into becoming artists of their own right.