CHEF SAM AISBETT, WHITEGRASS
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.”