100 Neo Tiew Road
Opening hours: Wed to Fri: 9.30am to 6.30pm;
Sat, Sun & Public Holidays: 8am to 6.30pm
Plant expert Hedrick Kwan has more than just green fingers. He is a culinary horticulturist as well. By this he means that he experiments making food with his knowledge of plants.
Mr Kwan embarked on his culinary journey in 2009, when he met Chef Leandros Stagogiannis, a former chef at The Fat Duck.
"Chef Lea wanted me to grow basil flowers. I was surprised that flowers could be eaten and followed him into the kitchen to find out what he used them for," says Mr Kwan. Soon after, he became a fan of the chef's work, and together they created a little garden outside the former Fifty Three restaurant. "I tried his food and was blown away by how one used plants and other raw materials to create an adventure in food."
Mr Kwan owns Plant Visionz, a gardening business where he teaches people how to grow their own vegetables. He also conducts cooking classes at Bollywood Veggies.
Now, he is onto the next step of his culinary journey, cooking private lunches at Bollywood Veggies.
"Growing a wide range of edible plants in this garden means there is always some exciting produce that comes into season every few months," he says. "This is a great place to experience the freshest of produce."
He does six dishes over a four-course meal for a minimum of 10 people, at S$65 per person. The lunch is held in Bhanchha, Bollywood Veggies' show kitchen, and diners sit around the island stove. There is no fancy tablecloth laid out, although Mr Kwan dresses each table setting with flowers. Diners do get to watch Mr Kwan add the final touches to the food.
On the menu for a recent lunch were humus with sour spinach and tapioca chips, smoked pumpkin salad, allspice soup, tomato eggplant ganoush with tabbouleh and falafel, mixed grain olive fried rice and a deconstructed pineapple tart with gula melaka and cream jelly.
Many of the ingredients that he uses are grown in Bollywood Veggies, and the menu is suitable for vegans too. "My aim is to make vegetables not taste like vegetarian food," he says.
He makes everything from scratch, without relying on preservatives or processed foods, and throws in tips such as mixing minced beancurd with chick peas, "so that the falafel retains its shape", and using betel leaves to create the smoky flavour in his pumpkin salad.
His allspice soup tastes like bak kut teh, but is cooked using the allspice leaf, so named because it combines the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Mr Kwan's pineapple tart looks nothing like those seen during Chinese New Year. He makes the filling using fresh pineapples, and scoops it into a kueh pie tie cup.
At the end of lunch, Mr Kwan is happy to bring diners on a quick tour of Bollywood Veggies, to point out the plants and vegetables that he has used, such as the four-angled bean and sweet potato leaves for the salad.
"Food is the common denominator between plants and people. Cooking lunches like these allow me to share my plant knowledge, while diners get to eat clean," he says.
Bookings for private lunches have to be made at least three weeks in advance. To book, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org