"It's about your own taste, what you like," said Lee Bennett. Thus began last week's session at the DBS Indulge, a dining programme that has run for 2 successful years to savour creations and learn culinary arts from renowned chefs.
Lee Bennett, a highly-acclaimed chef with numerous awards to his name, helms the kitchen at Equinox Restaurant, Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore. He towered over the counter in the signature kitchen of the Asian Food Channel studio at Orchard Central, with the various mise-en-place laid out by his efficient crew, many of whom are young, ambitious chefs determined to prove themselves. Before him were 30 cooking enthusiasts, food bloggers or just people who have a pure love for food, all seated around in small groups of fours or fives.
"Cold soup should be taking off in this hot weather," Chef says as he introduces the first dish, worthy of its long title -
Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with Lime Vodka Jelly and Spanish Olive Oil Sorbet
Not having had my dinner yet, I was pleasantly surprised to be served the food as I had thought it was only a cooking demonstration. Food tastes best when you're hungry! With much anticipation, I tucked in to find a beautiful gelatin of vodka lime jelly in my cold soup. The flavours from the sorbet burst in my mouth and I was immediately happy. I was ready to hear more of what he had to say.
Next up, his signature dish - Pan-fried Scottish Salmon with Warm Salad of Beetroot
Wild salmon - a protein rush to my brain and I already feel smarter. You know, some things are taught and some things are caught - so you really have to be there in person to see and hear him. He willingly offered many nuggets of culinary knowledge as he cooked, and I appreciated that. His passion was obvious and contagious and got me thinking about his food for the next few days.
When you cook with passion, even a basic pesto sauce can stimulate all your senses!
Another nugget he shared - slice off salmon skin, pop them in the oven at 60C before you go to bed, and wake up to find delicious salmon skin crackers to add texture to your dish.
His third creation - Sage-scented Rhugs Estate Pork Tenderloin
Wrapped in pork fat net, also known as the stomach lining as I've been told. My mom said her mother used to cook this way when they were growing up but that few butchers even know about this animal part now.
What was beautiful in particular were the Scotch Eggs - boiled quail eggs wrapped in minced pork! Delish! A must-try, I tell myself, and made sure I brought the recipe notes home.
His food was paired with Marabino wine also served at the Miele Guide Gala Dinner 2011 and World Gourmet Summit WRX Brunch 2011. They are from Sicily, Italy, are certified organic and biodynamic. The white - Insolia 2010 - is full-flavoured and very fresh on the palate. The red - Noto 2009 - is intense and attention-grabbing. I enjoyed both tremendously, in particular the red. And that's saying alot, coming from someone who normally prefers a white.
Unlike some celebrities who are more anxious to be done with the evening's job, Chef Bennett lingered on after the 3 presentations, and offered a surprise item. Flambed crepes! It's his belief to bring back the classics, and I'm with him on that!
I left making a mental note that I have to go to Equinox, if not to eat his food, at least to be infected by his passion again. An evening well-spent.
P/S: I will share the recipes when I try out these dishes myself!
Update: Here are the recipes!