THE NAT­U­RAL­IST:

CHEF SAM AISBETT, WHITEGRASS

Herworld (Singapore) - - LIFESTYLE -

Chef Sam Aisbett loves na­ture. You can tell by the wooden spoons used in his restau­rant, which are carved from a na­tive Colom­bian tree, and from the in­tri­cate hand­painted wall mu­ral that de­picts sea crea­tures, mam­mals, herbs and lush veg­e­ta­tion.

And of course, you can tell by his food. Gor­geous ed­i­ble flow­ers and del­i­cate green plants are com­mon ac­cents the 34-year-old uses in his cook­ing – a trib­ute to his child­hood in Aus­tralia, where he grew up close to na­ture. “Beau­ti­ful food should have an en­tic­ing com­po­si­tion of colours, tex­tures and flavours,” he says.

The food he cooks is of­ten in­spired by what he eats, as well as by the in­gre­di­ents of the re­gion where he’s based. For ex­am­ple, he re­calls eat­ing an abalone dish called Three Trea­sures at a Chi­nese restau­rant here, and en­joy­ing it so much that he de­cided to put his own sheen on it. His ver­sion had the shell­fish draped in pretty gold foil – a lit­eral take on how Chi­nese cui­sine re­gards abalone as a “trea­sure”.

Chef Sam’s artistry is best re­vealed in his fo­cus on tex­tures and lay­ers. This is per­fectly ex­em­pli­fied in a dish of but­ter-poached quail lay­ered with jelly-like cen­tury egg con­somme, toasted nuts and seeds, black gar­lic puree, and shards of de­hy­drated roasted milk. “Sur­prise is a very im­por­tant el­e­ment in din­ing,” he says, adding that exquisitely crafted lay­er­ing means that guests won’t be able to pre­dict what they’re go­ing to get from a dish.

True to form, he’s con­stantly on the look­out for what can go into his next mas­ter­piece. He says: “We have ac­cess to a mas­sive va­ri­ety of in­gre­di­ents in Sin­ga­pore. I am dis­cov­er­ing some­thing new ev­ery day, and there will be no end to my hunger for ex­per­i­ment­ing with Asian in­gre­di­ents, as long as I am cook­ing.”

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