Food for thought

Food for thought
Clockwise: Chef of restaurant Andre, Andre Chiang, one of the directors of Massive Collective, Phillip Phoon, executive chairman of the The Prive Group, Yuan Oeij, founder of the Lo & Behold Group, Wee Teng Wen and chief executive officer (CEO) of Refinery Media, Karen Seah (centre).

2014 will go down as a year of plenty for the food-obsessed who had their fill of eclectic cafes, artisanal coffee, restaurant-bars, mod-Sin cuisine, pastry shops, avant-garde cooking, local food producers and everything in between.

Wee Teng Wen

Co-founder of The Lo & Behold Group

For the group, hitting the one-year mark for bar-restaurant The Black Swan and revamping OverEasy "to cement our vision of the quintessential American diner" were the highlights of the year.

Industry-wise, what stood out for Mr Wee was that "for the first time ever, we are starting to see a proudly 'Made in Singapore' food product scene - from vegetables and herbs to granola, popsicles and jams."

Modern Asian cuisine will be at the forefront in 2015, he predicts. "I'm most impressed by the unadulterated Asian concepts in non-Asian countries, all executed with flair and aplomb, such as Pok Pok in Portland. I am excited to see how Singapore can lead the charge in this respect.

"Fine dining is primed for a comeback, but with more innovative concepts that push boundaries, and trade over-the-top molecular gastronomy for timeless classics executed with finesse."

Lo & Behold won't be sitting pretty in 2015, either. The cocktail scene will get a boost when 20-year-veteran Julian Serna of Sydney's Eau de Vie, The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room and Hemmesphere joins them as group bar mentor.

"His innovative approach to cocktails adds a dose of theatre and drama, not yet seen on the local cocktail scene."

The second quarter of 2015 will see them relaunching The Rabbit Hole, the outdoor garden bar of The White Rabbit, as a specialised wine and gin bar, complete with a curated list of wines by the glass and house-made tonics.

"In the later half of 2015, we will also open our flagship fine dining concept, but we can't reveal much now."

Lo & Behold also marks its 10th anniversary this year, and "we'll be working on a company rebranding exercise, and moving offices, which has been a long time coming".

The trend of fusing bar and restaurant concepts is here to stay, "and we like to believe we've had a hand in shaping the scene in that respect, with concepts like The White Rabbit and The Black Swan being prime examples".

What of his pet peeves? "Two words: 'exposed bricks'," laughs Mr Wee. "We're really, really tired of the hipster, industrial look!"

Yuan Oeij

Chairman of The Prive Group

IT was a busy year for The Prive Group: it launched its second Prive outlet in the refurbished Chijmes in September and the hotspot Bang Bang with partners Massive Collective, drawing celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay and Will.i.am.

Not to mention beating six other contenders for the coveted Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) riverfront dining spot.

Lobster rolls were Mr Oeij's favourite trend of 2014, with eateries such as Pince and Pints, but he laments how some traditional eateries have cashed out by selling their businesses and recipes.

"Somehow the magic is lost once a corporate takes over the business and tries to expand and 'improve' things. The magic is not just about the recipes or the property but the people and the stories."

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