“A gastronomic Masterchef dining experience”
Celebrity chef, restaurateur, and Masterchef Australia judge, George Calombaris, was in Singapore this week to promote Season 6 of the acclaimed reality series. At 36 years of age, he’s been voted one of the most influential chefs in the world; named as chef of the year and, won numerous accolades.
Hubalicious organized an exclusive dinner and “live” cooking demonstration session at Hotel Jen Singapore for 250 enthusiastic fans. Fans were treated to a gastronomical four-course Asian influenced meal contrived none other by the man himself. Classically trained George Calombaris has a strong preference for the unconventional and the passion for infusing his Greco-Cypriot roots in his dishes. Many similar concepts are served at his eateries in Australia – Hellenic Republic, Press Club, and Maha.
Calombaris entertained the audience with his cooking demonstrations, a first hand look at his obsession for perfection and excellence in food preparation. He also shared the concept of his upcoming eatery, Mastic. Devout fans of Masterchef Australia would have noticed his appearance changing for the better over the past few seasons. Calombaris is a staunch fan of the whole foods diet (fans of margarine beware!) and restaurant Mastic will be an extension of his new approach to holistic living and eating (with the Greco touch of course!)
The menu for the evening.
Chicken Parfait, bitter chocolate baklava, coffee, cumquat, pickled onion, pumpkin seeds. A twist of the traditional Baklava dessert, Calombaris delivers this seasonal dish that sends your taste buds into overdrive with distinctive textures and flavours from each ingredient. The unity of sweet, sour, salty, bitter.
Green Greek Salad with stir-fry abalone. An Asian take on the same dish served at the Press Club, this very green dish was rather delectable. Dusted with herbaceous flakes of frozen “secret herbs” to ensure the dish was sufficiently green.
However, the slices of abalone felt out of place with the assortment of greens and feta puree. The dish was topped off with tiny square of fried kale giving a tiny hint umami. Another chef at our table suggested having tiny pieces of deep fried pork lard would have infused more Asian flavour into this dish and I’d have to agree too.
Poached Chicken, miso hummus, green mango salad. Indonesian kecap manis, Japanese miso, and Thai fish sauce were the hallmarks of Asian-ness in this dish. The chicken breast was marinated, Clingfilm–wrapped into a roll, and then poached for 45 minutes at the magical ‘sweet spot’ of 63 degree Celsius till it was tender and moist.
The crunchy green mango salad was as original as it could be but it still lacked the signature Thai chilli spiciness. The hummus tasted mild and was unique in its own way from the traditional recipe with the omission of a key ingredient – garlic.
Chocolate Cake. Probably the highlight of the evening and with the best dish presentation – a proper Calombaris signature. The salted caramel drops and peanut butter cream balanced the overtly sweet chocolate cake and rich chocolaty ice-cream creating a pleasant harmony of flavours. This was the highlight for me, with salty creamy peanut butter and chocolate mix always being a crowd favorite.
Don’t get me wrong, Calombaris is an excellent chef – having sampled his creations in one of his restaurants. This dinner just came slightly short of the much-lauded signature Calombaris dining experience. Perhaps sticking to his personal signature style without the Asian influenced modifications would have made it that much more amazing.
MasterChef Australia airs at 7pm and 11pm from Mondays to Fridays on StarHub channel 514
Formerly known as Traders Hotel Singapore, Hotel Jen Tanglin was the first Shangri-La International property to undergo the rebranding exercise. The transformed hotel brings about greater flexibility catering to independently-minded business and leisure travellers. Located in the core of Singapore’s diplomatic district, Hotel Jen Tanglin is minutes away from the tranquility of Singapore Botanic Gardens and the bustling Orchard Road shopping belt.