I was recently invited to the At-Sunrice final graduation event: SpiceOdyssey, which is normally reserved to invited family and friends of the graduating students. SpiceOdyssey is a unique graduation capstone project that At-Sunrice graduating students go through as a rite of passage before graduating the academy.
There are ten kingdoms in the SpiceOdyssey and from these kingdoms, student groups will choose one that represents their culinary craft creativity and create hors d’oeurvres for guests to sample. For the SpiceOdyssey on 10 October 2014, students picked these 6 kingdoms or themes: Culinary, Intoxicants, Health & Beauty, Rainbow, Aromatics, Sex & Sensuality.
We begin our journey through each of these 6 kingdoms. Let’s find out what these graduates have achieved in each section as well as some of the highlights that I felt were outstanding and worthy of praise.
The culinary students no doubt had some butterflies in their belly, but maintained composure and calmly introduced each of their dish creations. This kingdom is where I was expecting the highest culinary standard.
Croquetas. A Spanish creation featuring Iberico ham and creamy Bechamel sauce fried with breadcrumbs. Creamy and salty in the centre with a crisp exterior, this wasn’t exactly revolutionary but was very comforting to me with its contrasting textures and simplicity.
Chinese Pork Jelly. Pork skin, sesame, peanut sauce and leek that has been boiled and reduced then chilled to form this fatty jelly. The gelatinous taste might not suit everyone, but I personally liked it for its classical umami punch.
When Two Worlds Meet. A French sable cookie topped with salted egg and sweet olive oil ganache. Absolutely lovely pastry that combines Asian and European influences, with salty and sweet notes that make it so delectable.
Where King Meets Lionheart. Seaweed macaroon with smoked salmon cream cheese, tobiko and dill. The naming of the dish is a little abstract, more like a play, don’t you think? I liked that this was so unexpected as you would think a macaroon is normally sweet, not savoury. A hit of creamy seafood flavour attacks the palate the moment you pop one into your mouth and the size is just right to appreciate the taste of the sea.
As from the kingdom name and decoration of the room, you can expect the dishes here to be more visually stimulating than the rest.
Rainbow 6 Sense. Coconut lime cheesecake with italian meringue and lime zest. A+ for how pretty this looks. Coconut and lime work surprisingly well together, creating a distinctive flavour that is light and zesty.
Mont Blanc. Purple sweet potato cream, orange soaked sponge, crunchy base, hazelnut dacquoise. A mini version of the popular Italian Mont Blanc, sweet potato is used here for the cream instead of chestnuts. Love the varying textures and the moist sponge , although the hazelnut wasn’t very prominent among the multitude of flavours.
Flambo Rainbow Maki. Naturally colored sushi with sous vide prawn, Eryngii mushrooms and baked watermelon. The color comes from red and yellow watermelon juice, so don’t worry. The sweetness of the watermelon complements the prawns well, while the pan fried mushrooms within add some crispy texture to the maki. One of my favorites in the entire event.
Revolving around a theme of ingredients that will intoxicate the senses, a whimsical Alice-in-Wonderland setting is created with dishes to accompany the lovely setup. The students go a step further to label their individual dishes with a the seven deadly sins.
Gluttony- Ipoh Hor Fun. Chicken and prawn soup served with flat rice noodles and shredded chicken. Growing up in a hawker nation like Singapore, this hor fun dish really struck my tummy close to home. Brilliant, robust stock created without the use of MSG, the student that created this has a rare talent in the Asian culinary department. I’ll gladly patronize his outlet if he ever opens a hor fun stall.
Wrath- Chili Chocolate Mousse. Chocolate sponge cake with chili padi mousse. Looking deceptively sweet, the chili padi spice was a nice surprise to complement the chocolate mousse. The spice level was just right as well, counteracting the bitter cocoa to make a pleasant dessert.
Pride- Earl Grey Mousse. Light Earl Grey Tea Bavarian cream served with zesty lemon meringue. To be honest the taste was so-so, but the presentation was just irresistibly cute. People would buy this simply because it was designed so realistically like a mushroom. The ‘dirt’ on the ground (which I’m guessing is cacao) was also a very nice detail thrown in to create this amazing presentation.
Sex & Sensuality Kingdom
Next stop is the more tricky theme of sex and sensuality, where students have to work on harmonising emotions and atmosphere along with the culinary products they serve.
Confit De Porc. Sous vide Pork Rillette, Pistachio on waffle biscuit. Loved the heavy shredded pork flavour which is matched with pistachio. The pork to biscuit ratio might be a bit overwhelming though, or generous as others might deem it, but that’s easily fixed.
Foie Gras Et Thé. Foie Gras Torchon, Tea Pearl, toasted bread. The dish is literally called Foie Gras and tea by the way. An extensive show of technical skill is required to make the Torchon as well as the tea pearl spherification, which coming from a culinary student, definitely left me impressed. The tea flavour could be a tad stronger, or perhaps the dish could use a bit of zest to undermine the richness of the foie gras, but definitely a hit for buttery foie gras lovers like myself.
Or-Nee Fusion. Yam cake, Spiced cranberry, Coconut chantilly, Caramelized Ginko bits. An excellent reinvention of the traditional or-nee (Yam paste), with its elements deconstructed and treated with a Western method. The essence of the yam paste is still alive and kicking.
A theme on fragrance and botanicals—aromatics, organic and homely vibes can be felt in this kitchen layout.
Lavender Citrus Posset with Lemon Gelee. Served with earl grey shortbread on the top, I loved how this dessert looked like a mini sapling plant sprouting to life. The tart gelee with lavender citrus posset was refreshing and fragrant, giving a brief respite from all the heavy tastings.
Sunflower. Cinnamon Apple pie with sunflower seeds and macadamia nuts. Intricately made apple pie with the right amount of comforting flavour. The nuts added a bit more bite to the otherwise mushy apple paste enclosed within the pastry.
Mini Beef Pie. Sauteed beef and onion served in tart shell. Another very comforting and simple dish that fits the theme and mood perfectly.
Health & Beauty Kingdom
Finally, after a long gastronomic journey, we arrive at the last kingdom of Health and Beauty. Nutrition, wholesomeness and an overall healthy focus is seen in the prepared dishes here.
Earthy Bars. Crunchy and chewy homemade granola topped with sweet potato puree, the natural sweetness made it very palatable yet nutritious, fitting the theme flawlessly.
Ruby Risotto. Beetroot and barley with tandoori fruits. I am highlighting this dish because I find the complex presentation akin to a raspberry very visually alluring. The risotto could have used a stronger flavoured stock though.
Yamkin Delights. Baked Meringue with hazelnuts topped with yam and pumpkin mousse. One of the numerous creations that utilized yam, this dish had a few things going right. Firstly, there was texture contrast between the mousse, meringue and hazelnut. Secondly, the yam and pumpkin complemented each other, yet retained individual flavours that could be differentiated by the palate.
Great work by the students and boy am I glad I survived eating more than 30 over distinct dishes in 1 day.
Everything that was achieved during SpiceOdyssey was a culmination of the months of hard work put in by the students from At-Sunrice. It’s amazing what they have accomplished merely as culinary students, with several astounding creations I would have only expected from experienced chefs. There is truly a bright future ahead for these students on the culinary path with the skillsets they have acquired here.
Established in 2001, At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy is one of the leading culinary institutes in Singapore that has cultivated multiple chefs and F&B professionals. Utilizing a culture of innovation as well as best-fit apprenticeships, students are empowered to pursue not just a career within the kitchen, but into other diverse areas like R&D and even restaurant entrepreneurship. Every chef dreams of opening his own restaurant some day, and At-Sunrice can bring you one step towards that dream.
Are you convinced yet of the competency of At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy’s students? No doubt, the academy has provided all necessary provisions and utilities needed for their students to excel in the F&B field, but this road to gourmet stardom still depends on the young, talented minds of Singaporeans taking that first step.
Check out At-Sunrice’s Open House happening on Friday, 17 Oct between 5 to 8pm for more information on starting your F&B career. There will be various food demos, a career talk and academy tours. RSVP your interest here: http://rsvp.at-sunrice.com