Creme brulee easy to prepare, so accident hard to imagine

Creme brulee easy to prepare, so accident hard to imagine

Professionals who use culinary blow torches say the equipment does malfunction at times but not to the extent where someone would get burnt by it.

So chefs were surprised when one singed a woman's hair and face while a chef was preparing her creme brulee.

The New Paper had reported how an Australian woman's hair was burnt at the Clifford restaurant at the Fullerton Bay Hotel on Sunday.

She had said she was near the chef when the fire suddenly came towards her. She suffered second-degree burns on her right shoulder, ear and face.

Mr Philippe Pau, 50, said: "It's a simple thing (to make creme brulee). I can't imagine how it happened."

The Frenchman is the director of Bistro Du Vin at Zion Road. Bistro Du Vin serves creme brulee and other dishes like onion soup that need to be torched by a flame.

Creme brulee is French for "burnt cream". It is made out of cream and eggs, and has a layer of hardened caramel on the top created by burning brown or white sugar.

The whole process of caramelising the top layer takes less than a minute, said Mr Pau, who has spent the last three decades working in food and beverage establishments around the world.

Mr Pau, who has worked in places like Switzerland, the UK, Dubai and the Seychelles, said he has heard of customers getting burnt by fancy cocktails that are lit, but never by a culinary blow torch.

Away from guests

Mr Michael Suyanto, 29, an executive chef who is also with Bistro Du Vin, said all preparations for the dishes are done in the kitchen away from guests.

He added that the culinary blow torch can malfunction - the small controlled fire of the blow torch may suddenly become bigger. Mr Suyanto said: "Sometimes it happens for no reason. Maybe the torch is faulty. But it lasts only for a few seconds and we turn the torch off right away.

"Nobody ever got burnt from it."

Mr Suyanto said there are other desserts that are more dangerous to prepare than creme brulee.

One example would be Baked Alaska, a cake topped with ice cream and browned meringue. Alcohol is poured over the dessert and a flame is applied to brown the meringue.

Although the flame lasts for only five to 10 seconds, it is not controlled.

When they prepare food at guests' tables with a culinary blow torch for special occasions, restaurant employees ensure that they warn guests to stand back. And they use a controlled flame a little bigger than the flame of a lighter.

Mr Patrick Fiat, the general manager of Royal Plaza on Scotts, said guests at the hotel are not directly exposed to heat from cooking equipment at any point of time.

Food at their satellite kitchens are prepared behind buffet counters to ensure a safe distance between guests and kitchen equipment. Mr Suyanto said kitchen employees at Bistro Du Vin are reminded to pay attention when preparing food.

But there are lessons to be learnt from the incident.

Said Mr Suyanto: "You need to focus on what you're doing. And you have to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you."

This article was published on May 14 in The New Paper.

Get The New Paper for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.