To­day’s most tal­ented chefs com­bine a fer­vour for pro­duce in its prime with a flair for aes­thet­ics—to vis­ually stun­ning re­sults. Don Men­doza mulls over a few out­stand­ing cre­ations

T. Dining by Singapore Tatler - - Content -

Com­bin­ing a fer­vour for sea­sonal pro­duce with a flair for aes­thet­ics, these top chefs re­de­fine what it means to serve art on a plate

It has long been af­firmed that we eat with our eyes first, which is also pre­cisely why chefs pay such close at­ten­tion to ev­ery el­e­ment that goes on the plate—from the size and tex­ture of the star in­gre­di­ent to the colour and con­sis­tency of the ac­com­pa­ny­ing sides and sauces—with the aim of serv­ing an aes­thet­i­cally ap­peal­ing dish or a plate that ex­presses the chef ’s personal ode to the sea­son.

The “nat­u­ral” or spon­ta­neous style of plat­ing, where in­gre­di­ents are seem­ingly ran­domly ar­ranged to look ef­fort­lessly stun­ning, has evolved over the decades, but con­tin­ues to ap­peal to the masses. Plainly put, there isn’t a lot a chef needs to do with a beau­ti­fully suc­cu­lent cut of beef done just right—or, for that mat­ter, a nicely pink, ten­der piece of duck breast glis­ten­ing in its own jus, and served with an equally gor­geous sup­port­ing cast of puréed liver and roasted root veg­eta­bles. Jaan’s Kirk West­away, for in­stance, prefers a min­i­mal­ist ap­proach.

His seem­ingly ran­dom po­si­tion­ing of the ac­com­pa­ny­ing herbs and veg­eta­bles around a per­fectly cooked lob­ster tail, placed in the cen­tre, forces the diner to pause and con­tem­plate the in­gre­di­ents’ form and unique re­la­tion to each other—giv­ing the of­ten-over­looked radish or dogfen­nel a mo­ment in the spot­light.

Sim­i­larly, Em­manuel Stroobant’s be­spoke salad is at a glance an un­adorned stag­ing of the sea­son’s prized veg­eta­bles. A closer look (and taste), how­ever, re­veals a com­plex as­sort­ment of treat­ments. The wild mush­rooms are sautéed with a lit­tle soy and smoked but­ter, while the white Hokkaido corn is first steamed in its husk then grilled on a hi­bachi and brushed with lime oil. Pick­led pearl onions are filled with a Cevennes onion puree, to star along­side roasted pump­kin and zuc­chini, bas­mati rice tu­ile for crunch and a puree of car­rot and cele­riac for added body.

A cre­ative eye is key, but with the ad­vent of mod­ern gas­tron­omy came new con­structs, for­ma­tions and, nat­u­rally, new tex­tures and

palate pleasers to play with. Foams and ed­i­ble “sand” and “snow” quickly be­came the norm, along­side a host of imag­i­na­tive tu­iles, jel­lies and meringues, to name a few.


Oth­ers like Christophe Ler­ouy of Ler­ouy still ap­ply some ba­sic “rules”—such as the use of odd num­bers. He also uses moulds, which lend an ar­chi­tec­tural aes­thetic that he then builds on. Opt­ing for a more ab­stract ar­tic­u­la­tion of his beet­root salad, An­drew Walsh of Cure com­bines wild strokes and splashes with spheres and rib­bons of beet­root that are first mar­i­nated in a re­duc­tion of beet­root juice, bal­samic vine­gar, sugar, olive oil and salt. The savoury side of fresh bur­rata ice cream, in this case, takes on a more cen­tral role—vis­ually, at the very least.

Over at Béni, ex­ec­u­tive pas­try chef Makoto Arami adopts a more ro­man­tic ap­proach to plat­ing his de­con­structed

Mont Blanc, fea­tur­ing chest­nuts and sweet potato from Ja­pan in a pretty por­trait along­side the sea­sonal dessert by way of a va­ri­ety of tasty in­ter­pre­ta­tions—from al­mond dac­quoise and lemon meringue to chest­nuts fried in honey and but­ter, as well as some ch­est­nut ganache with macadamia, all paired with a milk-and-nikka 12 Year

Old whisky ice cream. It’s Arami’s way of cel­e­brat­ing the mem­o­ries of his child­hood in Shiga Pre­fec­ture, as­sem­bled on a ce­ramic plate he made him­self.

Looks too good to eat, you say? Why, that’s part of the ephemeral plea­sure of din­ing on such culi­nary works of art.

by An­drew Walsh, Cure


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