Cook­ing Up A Storm

煮出火花

ZbBZ (Singapore) - - CONTENT - TEXT NG YIMIN /黄亿敏

Top chefs are team­ing up to whip up feasts called four-hands din­ners that both chal­lenge them­selves and de­light din­ers 最近流行“四手晚餐”,名厨邀请与自己理念相同的厨师来客座拼厨艺,两人四手给食客带来双重美味。

They say too many cooks spoil the broth. But some chefs are choos­ing to join forces with one an­other to cook up a storm. The four-hands din­ner, in which a chef in­vites an­other to cre­ate a menu to­gether, has gained pop­u­lar­ity lately.

A re­cent much-hyped pair­ing was that of An­dre Chi­ang of Restau­rant An­dre and Al­bert Adria of Tick­ets from Barcelona, who was crowned the World’s Best Pas­try Chef in 2015. Ola Cocina Del Mar’s Peru­vian-born chef-owner Daniel Chavez also held a third four-hands din­ner in July with famed In­dian chef Gag­gan Anand of Gag­gan in Bangkok, named Asia’s top restau­rant for the last three years.

Odette’s Julien Royer, too, teamed up re­cently with twin chefs Thomas and Mathias Suhring from mod­ern Ger­man restau­rant Suhring in Bangkok. The six-hands culi­nary ad­ven­ture saw tra­di­tional Ger­man recipes passed down from the twins’ grand­mother be­ing recre­ated with mod­ern tech­niques and sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents.

So why are top names in the re­gional gas­tro­nomic scene invit­ing their com­peti­tors into their kitchens? The chefs ZBBZ spoke to say fourhands din­ners give them the golden op­por­tu­nity to cook with friends, not ri­vals.

“The world is chang­ing,” Chi­ang notes. “Chefs from the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion didn’t have the com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools to ex­change ideas with one an­other. With the In­ter­net and all the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy avail­able to­day, chefs can learn from the best and finest from around the world and in­ter­act with each other.”

He has been friends with Adria for a decade, hav­ing met at top food events around the world. Both men have de­cided to work to­gether this year. “Adria will come to Sin­ga­pore first and I will fly to Barcelona later,” Chi­ang says. “We made a prom­ise.”

Work­ing with a culi­nary pro you are fa­mil­iar with can bring an ex­tra di­men­sion to the dishes, said the chefs.

Chi­ang and Adria aimed to whip up each other’s sig­na­ture dish. Chi­ang made Adria’s fa­mous air baguette while the Spa­niard recre­ated the Tai­wan-born chef’s sig­na­ture Camem­bert dish. Asked if they were afraid of mess­ing up, Chi­ang replies: “This is the only way we can truly work to­gether and be cre­ative. It doesn’t count as a fourhands din­ner if we just split the work in half.”

Mean­while, Chavez and Anand have en­joyed work­ing to­gether so much they have given their fourhands din­ner a name — GGGOLA, an amal­ga­ma­tion of their restau­rant names Gag­gan and Ola. “It’s dif­fer­ent ev­ery time,” says Chavez. “One time,

we were cook­ing Peru­vian food over char­coal in Bangkok. An­other time, we made In­dian paella over bar­be­cue for 200 peo­ple.”

Their most re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tion in­volves adding in­gre­di­ents to each other’s dish. Anand, for ex­am­ple, pepped up Chavez’s Pollo a la Brasa or Peru­vian grilled chicken with ba­nana, curry leaves and In­dian spices. This rein­ter­pre­ta­tion has opened Chavez’s eyes to us­ing un­fa­mil­iar in­gre­di­ents in a sig­na­ture dish.

As fun as it is to whip up a feast to­gether, mul­ti­hands din­ners do present some chal­lenges, such as the sourc­ing of in­gre­di­ents.

Giv­ing an ex­am­ple, Chavez says: “To­ma­toes grown in dif­fer­ent ar­eas can taste dif­fer­ent. The dish you’re good at may be pop­u­lar at the restau­rant, but you can’t con­trol how it tastes some­where else. You need to ob­serve and lis­ten to feed­back, and ad­just your dish ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal palate.”

Good team­work is also para­mount, he adds. “A suc­cess­ful four-hands din­ner de­pends on whether both teams can work to­gether, which is not some­thing that hap­pens ev­ery day.”

But a col­lab­o­ra­tion is worth the trou­ble as it en­cour­ages in­no­va­tion and teaches the chefs in­volved new things. French­man Royer says: “We work in our own vac­uum ev­ery­day, cre­at­ing food to feed our guests’ stom­achs and, hope­fully, their souls. But in a Four Hands sit­u­a­tion,when we col­lab­o­rate with part­ners who are in sync with our culi­nary phi­los­o­phy —magic can hap­pen in the kitchen. I strongly be­lieve in con­stant education and a life­long learning process for my team mem­bers. A Four Hands col­lab­o­ra­tion will also give the Odette team an op­por­tu­nity to learn from other top chefs.”

While th­ese culi­nary events are pop­u­lar and of­ten sell out quickly, the chefs in­volved are usu­ally not mo­ti­vated by mon­e­tary gain. Chi­ang, for in­stance, has his own rules for invit­ing other chefs into his kitchen.

“First, he or she has to be my friend and should be able to cook as well as I do,” he says. “Sec­ond, the col­lab­o­ra­tion should last for only a day, even though it’s not cost ef­fec­tive. With Adria, there are five peo­ple in his team. It doesn’t make eco­nomic sense to fly down for a day when you con­sider the ex­penses for flights and ac­com­mo­da­tion. But I didn’t hold a four-hands din­ner just to make money.”

He adds: “The chefs have come a long way to be here and I want to be their guide, to in­tro­duce them to Sin­ga­pore food, to take them to the hawker cen­tre to eat chicken rice, sa­tay, zhi char and more. If the guest chefs work the en­tire time with­out a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the lo­cal cul­ture, how would they im­prove their cook­ing?”

“With the In­ter­net and all the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy avail­able to­day, chefs can learn from the best and finest from around the world and in­ter­act with each other.” — An­dre Chi­ang

在武侠小说的世界里,功夫高深的师父教徒弟时会留一手,但在当今的饮食界,名厨们重视的是交流,不吝分享。近期流行的“四手晚餐”(Four Hands Din­ner),便是名厨们磨刀的平台,主厨邀请客座厨师一起拼厨艺,在厨房里煮出火花。本地食客近来非常有口福,高级餐馆的四手餐会,一场接一场。

Restau­rant An­dre主厨江振诚邀请曾荣获世界最佳糕点师美誉的西班牙巴塞罗那糕点师阿德里亚一起合作;西班牙餐馆OLA创办人兼主厨查维斯则与连续三年获“亚洲50最佳餐馆”冠军的曼谷摩登印度餐馆Gag­gan主厨阿南德合作,这是两人第三度四手一起做菜。

Odet­te的法国厨师罗耶与曼谷现代德国料理餐馆Suhring的双胞胎厨师Thomas和Mathias Suhring,三个人六只手,让传统的法国和德国菜肴,迸发精彩。这些名厨各有来头,平起平坐,为何大方敞开厨房大门,邀请“对手”进来?

江振诚说:“时代在改变,上一代厨师没太多交流机会,大环境比较封闭。现在,网络及信息发达,可以了解世界各地不同餐馆和厨师的拿手好菜,相互欣赏。”

像和朋友合作

与其说是对手,受访名厨把这样的合作视为和好朋友一起下厨的体验。

江振诚和阿德里亚是认识了十年的老朋友,这些年来在不同的国际餐饮盛会如世界最佳50餐馆活动上碰面。今年初,两人约定一起合作,阿德里先来新加坡,之后江振诚到巴塞罗那去。

就像和好朋友聚会时,心情放松,和相熟的厨师好友合作,能创出不一样的美味。

以江振诚和阿德里亚的合作来说,他们各自诠释一道对方的名菜,如江振诚“挑战”阿德里亚的空气面包。笑问两人不怕招牌菜被砸,竟这么“敢玩”?江振诚说:“这样双方才有交集,能发挥创意,四手联煮不是各自负责一半的菜肴就算数。”

合作三四次的阿南德及查维斯,也“越玩越起劲”,四手联煮项目还有特定名称“GGGOLA”。查维斯说:“每次合作都不一样,一次在曼谷一起用炭 火煮秘鲁食物,另一次用烧烤方式为200人准备印度海鲜饭。”

最近一次合作,两人在对方的拿手菜里“加料”,阿南德给查维斯的Pollo a la Brasa烤鸡,加入香蕉、咖哩叶和印度香料。查维斯认为,由他人来诠释自己的菜肴,感觉很奇妙。

过去五年,国际上的餐饮盛会越来越多,尤其亚洲餐饮业蓬勃发展,业者的关系越加紧密,合作机会增多。Suhring兄弟表示,他们入行过程及餐饮理念和罗耶非常接近,如以现代手法重现传统菜肴的精髓、善用当季食材等。因此,即便首次办四手联煮,也觉得特别契合。

这次合作,兄弟呈现经典德国菜包括Toast Hawai­i芝士火腿面包、Spat­zle鸡蛋面,以及祖母家传食谱O­mas Eier­liko­r蛋奶酒。

接受及克服挑战

从厨房团队到食材的选用,这类跨国、跨菜系的四手联煮,给厨师带来什么挑战?

查维斯分享经验之谈,“先说食材吧,每个地 方出产的番茄,味道都不一样。你的拿手好菜,在餐馆里人人赞好,但走出去后反应如何,是厨师无法掌控的。要学会聆听意见和不断观察,依据当地人口味随机应变。”

厨房讲究团队精神,两组人马在厨房里如何互相配合,很重要。查维斯一针见血地说:“四手联煮要成功,得看双方在厨房里是否能擦出火花,这种默契可遇不可求。”

面对挑战,主厨们乐于接招,因为这能激发创意,也是种学习过程。罗耶说:“我们每天在自己的天地里工作,喂饱食客之余也希望滋养心灵。四手联煮时,能和理念相同的伙伴合作,宛如在厨房里变戏法。这样的平台也让每个团队成员能向不同的名厨学习,增广见闻。”

对食客来说,“四手晚餐”次数多了是否会“变味”、乏味?

江振诚认为:“四手联煮,有利也有弊。好处是开拓眼界,启发想象力及创造力。食客也有口福,不必飞到国外就可尝到名厨手艺。然而,这类合作如果太频密,就变得商业化。”

不只从商业出发

经常受邀到不同国家当客座厨师,但作为邀请方,江振诚列出他的“不成文规定”。

他说:“首先,合作对象必须是我的好朋友,菜系和我的必须在同个品质标准,活动也只限一天。这次与阿德里亚的合作随行团队共五人,机票住宿等费用加起来,只办一场不划算。“不过,我不做商业考量,四手项目不是拿来冲业绩的,大老远安排客座厨师从世界另一端过来,我觉得我也要担任向导,给他介绍新加坡美食,到小贩中心去吃鸡饭、沙爹、煮炒等,那是一种交流。如果客座厨师从第一天忙到最后一天,像赶鸭子般,没有机会接触当地人或事物,没有任何收获,如何丰富厨艺?”

An­dre Chi­ang of Restau­rant An­dre and Al­bert Adria of Tick­ets aimed to whip up each other’s sig­na­ture dish. (Photo: Nat K)

Ev­ery GGGOLA dish has a unique taste and pre­sen­ta­tion. (Photo: Ola Cucina Del Mar )

Gag­gan Anand and Daniel Chavez have chem­istry work­ing with each other in the kitchen. (Photo: Ola Cucina Del Mar )

Odette x Suhring的“六手晚餐”,厨师们擅长法国和德国传统菜肴,让人吃出传统滋味。(Photo: Odette)

Odet­te的罗耶(左)和曼谷Suhring餐馆双胞胎厨师Thomas和Mathi­as合作。(Photo: Odette)

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