Monday, January 11, 2010

French Wine and Dine dinner

The French Wine and Dine dinner organized by Sopexa recently at GourmetPlus was a delightful and enjoyable one. This dinner was held in conjunction with the Concours Cuisine 2009, a friendly culinary competition between junior chefs like me, focusing on French cuisine and techniques. Being my first ever competition, was really an eye opener for me. All the nerves and adrenaline at the final day was amazing yet scary at the same time. Up until the time when the last dish came out, a sigh of relief was a common thing that everyone faced. The dishes that were prepared were judge by a distinguished panel of chefs as well as industry related people. Because of the competition, I get to meet many myriad of trainees as well as chefs that are passionate about what they are cooking and presenting, they gave us, aspiring chefs, many advice on how we could improve our dish and also motivating words. This platform would not have been possible for me if not for Sopexa’s organization for the competition.

I was really excited when I heard from them that they are organizing a follow up dinner with the competitors as well as some of the judges and members of the Singapore Junior Chefs’ Club. When we arrive at GourmetPlus, we found the place very cozy and homey. There were many products from France around, like their red wine vinegar and what really surprises me was that the place even had a wine cellar of their own. It really exudes a very homey and comforting French bistro kind of feeling, where people would come here after a long day for a nice hearty meal and get together with friends. It was definitely a right place for the gathering!

Once we sat down, we were served some Cremant and home made gravelax on blinis orange and dill sauce. It was like small pancakes with smoked salmon on top, accompanied with dill sauce. The taste of the salmon together with the dill sauce merged so well together with the taste of the chives and the soft yet surprisingly fluffy blinis. It truly was a delightful way to start of the evening together with the Cremant d’Alsace.

Shortly after, Chef Mus gave us a short summary on French Cuisine and how it has evolved from Classical French to Nouvelle French and till Modern French cuisine, the differences and the people behind this food evolution, such as Paul Bocuse and Auguste Escoffier. I was really interesting getting to learn about the rich history of French cuisine and the many part of France that has different ways of doing different dishes and the history that goes behind those dishes and up till this day, these many dishes are still being served and in many different forms due to different intepretations by many different chefs but using almost the same classical techniques.

While we were enjoying our wine and blinis, we also had a talk on wine and the art of wine appreciation by Ms Jenny Tan, a wine journalist. It was like a 101 on how to drink and appreciate wines. For example the steps on appreciating it like swirling the wine globe so that the flavor of the wine would come out and how to coat your palate with the wine, which is to make sure that you can actually get to taste the actual flavor of the wine. She was also talking about wine from France, particularly wine from Alsace. We were also taught the importance of wine pairing. Like how wine could actually affect the way food tasted. It made us realize how important wine is in the culinary world and it is something that we have to take note of when we are creating a dish that has wine in it or when we want to pair a dish with wine. It is definitely not something to be overlooked.

We had wine that was made in France served to us and we also got to know a little history of the wine. That really gave us a much better appreciation of the things that we were drinking. While drinking, we were served our second course of Light Lobster Bisque, saffron emulsion tortellini of blue prawn. The first mouth full of the bisque was simply wonderful. It was really very flavorful and rich. All of us on the table shared the same thought as well. It had that rich lobster taste that really stayed in your mouth together with the tortellini, it was a perfect match. Coincidentally I was thinking to myself “that were the same ingredients I used in my competition and he actually created something so soulful from his own repertoire.”

The third course was Pan seared Cod Fish Carrot and Cardamom Emulsion and Tempura of Enoki mushroom. The cod fish was really well cook and went well the emulsion that it was sitting on. Chef Jean Rene’s cod fish dish had an absolute balance that would leave you craving for more.

After the cod fish was served, we were served with French Duck Breast Glazed with Honey and Raz El Hanout and Thyme Sauce together with a French red wine. The duck breast was really juicy and I really enjoyed the skin that was on top of the duck. It was crisp and sweet. And the best part was that the red wine really brought out the flavor of the duck.

To round the whole meal off, we had Home made Nougat Ice cream with Raspberry coulis. Wow, the difference between home made ice cream and factory made ice cream is really apparent. There was a crunch in every bite of the nougat ice cream, with loads of nuts and nougat in it. My sweet tooth could not resist finishing up the whole plate.

This was definitely a night that started and ended great. With soulful French food, wonderful French wine and delightful companies, what more can anyone ask for?

By Poh Lay Hwee, candidate of the Concours Cuisine 2009, and member of the Singapore Junior Chefs' Club

Friday, January 8, 2010

Time flies, and another new year is about to unfold…

As 2009 comes to a close, I would first like to wish all a year of many happy new beginnings. This year, saw SJCC through its Fifth Anniversary, of which we tried new things as we learnt together, with activities such as the Junior Chefs’ Forum, and visits to new unexplored places, namely Myco Farm, as well as Indoguna. The Singapore Junior Chef's Club were also entrusted with new responsibilities such as running the show for the Dinner and Dance, and these of course enabled us to learn under the guidance of the seniors.

In the coming year, the Singapore Junior Chefs' Club will continue to strive and we hope to bring more interesting and new activities to our members and juniors.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, including all chefs who have guided us along the way, all members for their support and participation in our activities, the advisors and the liaison officers who have helped in every way (from recruitment to taking care of the members needs during our trips and activities). Of course, not forgetting the committee who have taken time off, and for their commitment in the club, ensuring that all events and activities run smoothly. These would not have been made possible, if not for everyone’s efforts and participation.

I believe together we could create more magic, in 2010.

Before I sign off, I would once again like to wish all members and our committee a year of continual learning. May you find joy and happiness, thus succeeding in all your endeavours!

With best Culinary Spirits,

Belinda Ng
Vice President
Singapore Junior Chefs' Club the youth arm of Singapore Chefs Association

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vice Chairman Message - Gary

To all our young and aspiring chefs wannabes, a Happy New Year to all of you. I hope that the year of 2009 had been a fruitful one for you and that 2010 will be a better one.

A new year marks a new start for all of us in the culinary journey. We saw many of our young chefs competing in competitions throughout the whole of last year like the Nestle competition, Tabasco competition, USA Turkey competition, Norwegian Salmon competition and many more.

This year, we will also get to see more of these competitions and an exceptional one, which is the Food Hotel Asia 2010. I am sure that most of you will be taking part in different categories of the event and I wish you all the best and hope that you will do your organization proud and do Singapore proud. For those who are not taking part, I hope that you will be able to attend the event and support the team of chefs from Singapore and give them the fullest support. It will also be a good platform for those of you who want to compete in future competitions.

Lastly I wish you all the best in all your culinary adventures and challenges. Once again Happy New Year to all of you, the future chefs of Singapore.

Best Culinary Spirits
Gary Lim
Vice Chairman
Singapore Junior Chefs' Club the youth arm of Singapore Chefs Association