PLAYING WITH FIRE
If you’re not barbecuing over wood, you’re not doing it right. So says DAVE PYNT, Aussie chef at Singapore’s Burnt Ends, who sets us straight with a coal-fired menu made for spring.
Dave Pynt, Aussie chef at Singapore’s Burnt Ends, lights up the barbie for a coal-fired menu made for spring.
Think cooking over fire is something only chefs can do? Think again.
“Just do it,” says Dave Pynt, chefpatron of Singapore’s Burnt Ends. “Just get in there and figure it out as you go.”
Just doing it has been a recurring theme in the Perth-born chef’s career. Following time at Australian fine-dining powerhouses Tetsuya’s and Restaurant Amuse, Pynt headed abroad and staged in kitchens such as Noma, St John Bread & Wine and, perhaps most tellingly, Asador Etxebarri, home of Basque barbecue master Victor Arguinzoniz.
After five months in East London running a pop-up (known as Burnt Enz) Pynt was lured to Asia by Singaporean hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng to open a more permanent venture. Enter Burnt Ends, a lively Chinatown bar and restaurant where dinner includes the theatre of a buzzing open kitchen, outstanding drinking, and a toe-tapping soundtrack. Factor Pynt’s fun take on barbecue cooking and you’re looking at a good time that’s turned the heads of eaters from around the world.
Although the heart of the Burnt Ends kitchen is custom-made grills and ovens designed by Pynt, the dishes can be faithfully reproduced in any backyard here. All that’s needed is something to hold the coals – a medium-sized Weber, say, or, as Pynt has resorted to in the past, oil drums cut in half – and the ability to think on your feet.
“Cooking over fire is very interactive,” he says. “You have to focus your energy on the fire to make sure you’re working with it rather than against it. You also have to be flexible. Sometimes the fire will dictate when it’s time to cook something.”
While barbecuing with wood can be as much art as science (see Pynt’s advice below), Pynt stresses that throwing a good barbie is first and foremost about being a good host.
“If a guest wants to cook, let them cook,” he says. “Get people involved. It creates a conversation. You’re not putting on a Michelinstarred meal; you’re cooking a barbie with your mates. It’s about creating an environment you enjoy.” Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Rd, Singapore, +65 6224 3933, burntends.com.sg