Born in Melbourne and raised in the Whitsunday Islands of North Queensland, chef Sam Aisbett left school at the age of 15 and became an apprentice at his father’s butcher shop, where he made sausages and sliced meat. He later joined Club Crocodile, a hotel, as a kitchen assistant, where he spent most of his time scrubbing dirty dishes. Since then, he’s worked at several cities around the world including Sydney, Queensland, Brisbane, Gold Coast and London, and cut his teeth at top fine dining institutions such as Tetsuya’s by chef Tetsuya Wakuda, and Quay.
What’s your take on Singapore’s fine dining scene?
Although there are more casual options opening up in Singapore, there will always be a place for fine dining. Diners these days are better travelled and have a more refined and seasoned palate, hence fine dining is evolving rather than diminishing. Establishments are stepping up their game to meet the sophisticated demands of diners today, looking beyond just serving delicious food on the table but providing an immersive, all-round high quality dining experience.
Quality restaurants in Singapore are getting their deserved recognition, both locally and globally, thanks to prestigious awards from Michelin Guide and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and this is extremely encouraging in ensuring that the fine dining scene stays competitive and maintains high standards.
Has the concept of fine dining changed over the years?
Apart from expecting impeccable service and high quality food in a fine dining restaurant, diners these days are looking for unique and interactive dining experiences too. Diners are drawn to restaurants that offer something new and refreshing.
What has kept you in Singapore all these years?
I feel a sense of affinity to Singapore. I have always loved Asia and my cooking has always been heavily influenced by Asian cuisine, hence it was quite an easy decision to pick Singapore as the place to start a restaurant. I love the food culture here and everyone is so passionate about food. The palate in Singapore is global and people are open and adventurous. It is very encouraging to see people enjoying my cuisine and it makes me want to create more inventive dishes.
More top restaurants around the world are getting onboard the locavore movement, what do you think are some of the reasons driving chefs towards this direction?
Diners are better informed and educated these days. They want to know what they are eating, where the produce comes from and how they are grown. At Whitegrass, we pride ourselves on using the best quality produce that we can find in Australia, various parts of Asia and ingredients that are grown locally.
Do your diners question the price point when they learn that your restaurant is serving dishes prepared with local produce?
We are thankful that our diners are knowledgeable and appreciate the high quality produce that goes into their dishes. To ensure that diners have a better understanding of the dishes they are eating, our team is well trained to answer any queries and share more information on these unique, quality ingredients on the menu too.