Tis the Season to be Jolly

With the mention of Christmas, what comes to mind? To me, besides 2 Corinthians 9:15, Christmas is all about giving and being merry.

My first christmas as a chef means people now have higher expectations of the food I prepare. Moreover, being here in Sydney means there’s a stronger house party culture VS back home. Add these two together and you would pretty much understand why I have been very busy these past few days 🙂

Here’s what I prepared for yesterday’s party at CL’s —

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[LEFT] FRUIT FLAN #1 made by me
[RIGHT] FRUIT FLAN #2 assembled by my housemate, CC

And a whole lot of Choux Puffs….

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…to build this….

croq2My first attempt on a choux puff croquembouche (since I skipped the croquembouche lesson at LCB to bring my mom out to the city).

My learnings from the engineering this croquembouche —

1) Instead of buying a croquembouche styrofoam cone costing up to $40 each, purchase a toy loud hailer (seen above) at Daiso for just $2.80
2) Bake the choux puffs the day before so you will not be overwhelmed and too tired to assemble the choux puffs. Just make sure to refresh the choux puffs in the oven before assembling
3) Make sure to dip the puffs in lots of caramel so that the croquembouche holds up on it’s own after you remove the structure + silicon paper. Optional: You may want to add lots of salt to the caramel to add a twist to the traditional method – salt caramel…the in thing isn’t it?
4) Assemble croquembouche as near to service time as possible because sugar is hydroscopic and will start melting away – resulting in your spun sugar deco vanishing in thin air and overall weakening of the croquembouche structure (eventually, it will come tumbling down)
5) You may want to consider leaving out the choux puff filling – this will result in a less heavy structure and the product can be left out in r.t.p for most of the day and still remain edible. For yesterday’s party, I brought along a piping bag full of earl grey creme pat and set up a ‘dessert counter’ where people came to pick their choux puffs off the croquembouche and handed it over to me for the CHILLED creme pat. This way, I managed to collect individual feedback which will help me improve for the future. Kids (and even adults) loved it…some of them were also thrilled to have their hand at piping the filling themselves.

Yayness! 1 party down, 2 more to go.

John 3:16 – Merry Christmas one and all!

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[Sydney] Rockpool Bar & Grill

Being one of the top on my wishlist for a place to intern at (back then), I made a reservation at Rockpool Bar & Grill when my folks were here on a visit back in July.

The interior of the restaurant itself is quite impressive – high ceiling, large dinning floor area, very decent-sized open kitchen and all (and very very dimly-lit too).

However, not all dishes were impressive and very much less so their plating. Here’s sharing a couple of dishes which we enjoyed and would consider ordering again —


SEARED KING PRAWN WITH GOAT CHEESE TORTELLINI, BURNT BUTTER, PINE NUTS & RAISINS ($32) – very impressed with how beautifully-wrapped the tortellinis are.


CRISPY ROCK FLATHEAD ($49) – Perfectly executed. According to mom…the best fish she has ever tasted. However, I am not sure if the plating of the dish did justice to it.

Overall, a place to go to for quality food at a price – great for business dinners. However, do not expect anything fancy.

Rockpool Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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A Sneaky Post

Do you often find yourself being dissatisfied with the status quo? We do!
And so….a blog revamp is what has been keeping K & I very busy of late.

As a sneak peek, K & I tasked ourselves to come up with our very own interpretation of our new blog design. Ladies and Gentleman, presenting….

ketchup logo (K)
K’s interpretation of our new blog design

Ketchup logo
P’s interpretation of our new blog design

Do stay with us as we go through this exciting period of CHANGE!

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[LCB] Superior Cuisine – Restaurant Classes

Time flies! It’s been 14 months since I left the corporate world and 11 months since my move to Sydney. Looking back, much has been achieved during this period and I am truly grateful for the opportunities that came along.

Now, to finish off my blog series on Superior Cuisine….the all exciting Restaurant Classes!
First, a description of what the Restaurant Class entails – basically, it is a weekly ‘lesson’ during which we run the entire kitchen in our school’s Ambassador Restaurant. For each session, every student is allocated a different role in either the bread, canape, entree, mains, dessert or petit fours section. Each student is also given the opportunity to lead as Chef De Partie of the respective session at least once throughout the Restaurant Class series. Prior to each service, students are given a menu which is totally new to them – they are then required to prepare everything from scratch within 4-5 hours and be ready for service time. Although we entered each service without having prepared the menu before, it is amazing how we were always able to pull ourselves together to deliver a very successful service (of course, there were minor and not-so-minor incidents now and then….but there’s always someone to save the day eventually!).

Below are the 3 menus we served over 6 weeks of restaurant classes —

MENU #1

CANAPÉ: SCALLOP CEVICHE with FRESH COCONUT, LIME & MINT


[LEFT] ENTRÉE: HOT SMOKED TASMANIAN SALMON with PEA PUREE
[RIGHT] ENTRÉE: ZUCCHINI FLOWERS with CHICKEN MOUSSELINE, TEMPURA BATTER, ORANGE & BEETROOT SALSA


[LEFT] MAINS: CRISPY SKINNED WILD BARRAMUNDI, BUSH TOMATO CHUTNEY, LEMON MYRTLE MAYO & KIPFLER POTATOES
[RIGHT] MAINS: CHARGRILLED BLACK ANGUS SCOTHCH FILLET STEAK with CAFÉ de PARIS

On week 2, I was tasked to be Chef De Partie of Desserts section. It was also the day my parents were scheduled to dine at the restaurant. I remember this day vividly – it was a day of extreme kitchen chaos!!! In the midst of our busyness, I managed to obtain second degree caramel burns on 4 of my fingers. To top it off, 3 other students suffered bloody injuries that were major enough to be sent to the first aid office – this meant that one third of the team was injured during that service! As a result, Chef Tristan was so busy filling up adminstrative forms explaining the nature of our injuries – so sorry Chef. In spite of all these, we managed to deliver a successful service with no complains 🙂


[LEFT] DESSERT: FINE APPLE TART with CALVADOS ICE CREAM
[RIGHT] DESSERT: PRALINE SEMIFREDO with SANGRIA POACHED PEAR with PORT REDUCTION


[LEFT] PETIT FOURS – prepared by yours truly on Week 1. Petit Fours may seem simple but I sure learnt that they take longer to prep than one expects!
[RIGHT] CHEESE TROLLEY – I was also in charge of bringing the cheese trolley out to the floor and offering silver service to guests who chose the cheese platter for their dessert course. To do that, I had to know each kind of cheeses well and also be able to hold a conversation with the guest while cutting and serving the cheeses – pretty fun!

MENU #2 

CANAPÉ: KING FISH CEVICHE


[LEFT] ROAST PUMPKIN & RAISIN TORTELLINI, KERVELLA GOATS CHEESE, WALNUTS & SAGE BURRE NOISETTE (by Me) – it was great fun making these tortellinis in bulk.
[RIGHT] SEAFOOD BOUDINE, TOMATO COULIS with TABLE SMOKED PACIFIC OYSTERS


[LEFT] SLOW ROASTED DUCK BREAST with SPATZLE, RED CABBAGE & PORT WINE GLAZE
[RIGHT] CHARGRILLED FISH OF THE DAYS with SALSA VERDE, CRUSHED OLIVE POTATOES, ROASTED VINE RIPENED TRUSS TOMATOES


[LEFT] BRIOCHE & BUTTER PUDDING with RASPBERRY COULIS & VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM (by Me & My Team)
[RIGHT] ASSIETTE OF CHOCOLATE (by Me & My Team) – white chocolate bavarois, warm chocolate strudel, chocolate marquise, citrus & tarragon salad

MENU #3
bread basket
BREAD BASKET consisting of SOURDOUGH/FOCACCIA/BAGUETTES/GOUGERES (by Me) – For the final week of Restaurant Class, I requested to be on bread section because I love bread-making and I find it extremely therapeutic. Since I had complete freedom on what breads to make, I chose some of my all time favorites of course! 🙂
For the sourdough, I created a biga starter at home the day before – as it was winter, I found it extremely hard to keep it at the temperature ideal for fermentation. Eventually, I ended up switching on the electric blanket and tugging my biga to bed 😛 As for the baguette and focaccia, I went to school 1 hour earlier at 6.30am so as to allow the bread to ferment over a longer period of time – thus creating more flavors.

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[LEFT] GOUGERES – Savory choux puffs which I made while waiting for my doughs to prove. These savory puffs proved to be a hit among the guests and quite a few of them asked about what and how they were made.
[RIGHT] FOCACCIA – My all time favorite – if only there were some black olives available…

[LEFT] ENTRÉE: SEARED QUAIL BREAST with SOFT EGG YOLK RAVIOLI, BABY SPINACH & TRUFFLE OIL
[RIGHT] ENTRÉE: PAN FRIED PRAWNS with LIME & CHERMOULA on SWEET CORN PUREE, SALSA VERDE & MICRO HERBS

Being Chef De Partie for the Mains section on Week 5, I experienced the mean feat of producing a couple of very resource intensive dishes. It was a challenge but with great teamwork from my 2 commis chefs, we managed to deliver the below —


[LEFT] MAINS: SMOKED LAMB LOIN with POLENTA CAKE, PETIT RATATOUILLE, JUS & ROSEMARY AIOLI (by Me & My Team)
[RIGHT] MAINS: SOUS-VIDE CHICKEN BREAST with TRUFFLE MOUSSELINE, FONDANT POTATO, BABY SPINACH & PORCINI SAUCE (by Me & My Team)


[LEFT] DESSERT: BOMBE ALASKA with SEASONAL BERRY SOUP
[RIGHT] DESSERT: CHOCOLATE LOUIS XI – chocolate mousse, chocolate sponge & ganache

Looking back, I really miss the times and camaraderie we built during Restaurant Classes… I must say those were some of the best days of my life in LCB!

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Le Finale

On the 7th December of 2012, I sat for took my last exam in LCB.

Pre pic
These all-too-familiar tables lined with neatly starched tableclothes, ready for our masterpieces to rest upon. Although it was my sixth time doing this, I still felt butterflies in my stomach as I marched down the corridor…into Kitchen 4.

Post pic
After 4.5 hours….voila! Those 4.5 hours in the kitchen was not quite as grueling as in the cuisine kitchen – but, it was certainly a true test of patience and perseverance. Concentration is key and absolute precision is required.

Each student was required to create their own original cake with limited number of ingredients provided (only 100g of white, milk and dark chocolate respectively!!). Also, no fancier stuff like mango, passionfruit and durian – just a punnet of strawberries and 100g of raspberry puree.

Exam gateau
My gateau – Le Trinité (Hazelnut Crunch/Raspberry with Roasted Strawberries/Dark Choc Mousse/Grand Marnier/Cocoa Glaze). Not perfect, but I am happy with it regardless.

With this exam, I am now officially a Grand Diplome graduate of Le Cordon Bleu! It’s still pretty hard to believe that I am now a qualified chef…all I can say is I can’t wait to return home to cook for my loved ones!

Posted in Le Cordon Bleu Sydney - Australia | 2 Comments

Snippets of [Shanghai]

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佳家汤包 – 佳家 is a very popular choice for this local snack.  The shop was fully packed at 3pm and most of the XLBs were sold out already (including the salted egg & pork XLB that I wanted to try). 😦

We settled for the crab & pork XLB – They tasted awesome and pretty much on par with DTF. That’s a huge compliment coming from the #1 DTF fan. 🙂 I also liked the duck blood soup  – a childhood favourite to order at the yong tou foo stall.

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红宝石 – Cotton soft, fluffy cakes with really fresh cream. THUMBS UP.

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尧尧蟹王 – This is the jolly season for hairy crabs! We picked a crab of each gender so that we get the best out of both worlds. 🙂 I like the female crab better – The roe was creamy and sweet. The accompanying dip (vinegar with ginger bits and sugar) brought out the freshness of the crab very well.

The mala snails turned out to be a fantastic decision. I decided that I like anything “mala”. Maybe, a trip to Sichuan next? 😛

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Jean-Georges – Located at three on the Bund with a fantastic view of 外滩. We had the signature brunch set. Every item was exceptionally well executed – My personal fave was the smoked salmon on baked potatoes slices topped with a mini sunny side up! The brunch was served with a variety of quality bread, pastries, fresh juice & tea.

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小杨生煎 – Do you know that pan fried dumplings can be juicer than soup dumplings? 小杨 made it possible! These dumplings were so addictive that we went back nth times over the weekend. 🙂  

这次上海之旅超感动的 – 和好友品尝飙泪美食, 疯狂逛H&M, “nth” 次泡吧矢败, 半夜聊生活, “投资” Starbucks, 陪好友疗伤, 体验当地的文化……我想我爱上上海了. 🙂

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Majestic Restaurant vs. Chu Dao

Majestic restaurant and Chu Dao are both known for their innovative Chinese cuisine in Singapore.  We decided to go out of our Chinese restaurant comfort zone i.e. Imperial, Paradise Group…. and try out the two well reviewed restaurants.

Majestic Restaurant                         Majestic restaurant is housed in a boutique hotel on Bukit Pasoh Road

The Must OrderStewed Mee Sua with Baby Abalone – The irresistible noodle dish contained a generous number of baby abalones! The soft mee sua absorbed the seafood goodness from the thick broth and tasted wayyy fab.

The Innovative

[LEFT] Lychee Siew Mai – I was expecting an interesting dish that would harmonize both ingredients seamlessly. However, the dish turns out to be exactly how it looked – A lychee placed on top of a siew mai. The overly sweet sauce drenched on the siew mai was unnecessary too 😦
[RIGHT] Sliced Peking Duck with Pan-seared Foie Gras and Banana topped with Black Cavier. Each item on this plate was well executed but again the binding factor was missing.

The Dessert
[LEFT] Chilled Mao Shan Wang Durian with Gula Malacca
[RIGHT] Crispy Durian Ice Cream

Chu Dao


Chu Dao is located along Joo Chiat Place (Near to the little Vietnam)

The Must Order

[LEFT] Peking Duck – The signature dish in Chu Dao and some said that it’s on par with Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck.

Verdict – We are going back to the super peking duck. 🙂 Taste is subjective.

[RIGHT] Duck Soup with Tofu, Mushroom & Salted Vegetable – We took the recommended soup option for the second serving of the duck. This is excellent – almost comparable to our favourite salted vegetable duck soup in Ole Sayang.

The Innovative

[LEFT]  Stewed Pork Ribs & Pumpkin in Mini Pumpkin – LOVE the presentation. The pork ribs were tender and tasty.
[RIGHT] Homemade Egg Bean Curd with Shrimp Paste, Crabmeat & Roe in Pi Pa Style – A dish that goes very well with white rice. The sauce tasted rich and comforting but we agreed that it’s not salty enough. An additional pinch of salt would have work wonders.

The Dessert
Chilled Cream of Mango Sago and Taro Paste with Pumpkin and Gingko Nuts – The desserts were unimpressive. We should have moved on for better desserts.

Overall – both Majestic Restaurant and Chu Dao served above average Chinese food but nothing was really memorable that we would go out of the way for a round 2. The mainstream Chinese restaurants in Singapore are good enough to satisfy our fine Chinese food cravings.

Majestic Restaurant
Tel: +65-6511 4718
Opening Hours: 11.45 am to 3 pm & 6.30 pm to 11pm, Daily
Add: 31 Bukit Pasoh Road  089845

Chu Dao
Tel: +65 63441925
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 14:30pm & 6pm-11pm, Daily
Add:#01-01, 45 Joo Chiat Place, S427769

Posted in Chinatown, Chinese, Fine Dining, Paya Lebar, Restaurant | Leave a comment