My mum, my inspiration

My mum, my inspiration

Stephane Istel
Bar-roque Grill 165 Tanjong Pagar Road #01-00
Tel 6444 9672

Like mother like son - growing up in his mother's kitchen was definitely a huge influence in Stephane Istel's life as he grew older. "My mum is especially accomplished in making pastries and desserts," says the executive chef and co-owner of Bar-roque Grill, as he recounts fond memories of watching his mother cook and the delicious dishes she served.

The restaurant's signature Mom's Recipe Apple Pie ($12 per slice) was one of his favourite things his mother cooked, and is one of the many Alsatian dishes on the menu inspired by her.

"Whenever she made it, my siblings and I would wait impatiently for the pies to cool before eating them!" he says. "My mother expresses her love for our family through her amazing cooking of classical Alsatian dishes."

His mother encouraged him to cook, and he made his first yoghurt cake at the age of seven. He also hopes to introduce more of his mother's desserts like her black forest cake to the menu.

Mr Istel believes that the most important thing he's learnt from his mother is to always cook with passion and love, and derive pleasure from the happiness of people he cooks for.

Despite the fact that his mother lives in Alsace and Mr Istel in Singapore, he maintains that they stay very close and keep in touch. "I often still call on her for advice on recipes," he says. "We continue to inspire each other to cook better."

Mom's Recipe Apple Pie
6 Pink Lady apples (or other varieties)
30 cl (300 ml) cooking cream
20 cl (200 ml) milk
4 eggs
20 gm sugar
3 gm cinnamon powder
Tart dough:
250 gm flour
100 gm icing sugar
30 gm almond powder
150 gm butter
1 egg
2 gm salt 

Tart dough:
1. Using a Kitchen Aid dough hook, mix the flour and butter slowly, then add in icing sugar, almond powder, salt, and finish by adding in the egg.
2. Slightly knead the dough to even it out. Wrap the dough in a plastic cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

1. Mix all the ingredients together with a whisk.

1. Mix all the ingredients together into a paste, then place into the refrigerator.
2. Peel the apples, de-core and cut them into quarters. (Score the apples)
3. Flatten the sweet dough to 1/2 cm thick, (sprinkle almond powder on base of dough) and place it into the tart mould of 18-20 cm. Place the apples within.
4. Place it in a pre-heated oven at 180°C and cook for 20-25 min. Remove and fill the tart with the custard. Place it into the oven again and cook at 160°C for another 25-30 min until the custard starts to set.
5. Remove from oven. Cool tart down for at least 30 min to 1 hour before serving.

Alexandre Lozachmeur
Fleur de Sel Le Restaurant
64 Tras Street #01-01
Tel 6222 6861 Open 12pm to 2pm and 6.30pm to 10pm. Closed on Sun

Whenever Alexandre Lozachmeur - owner of French restaurant Fleur De Sel - cooks his popular le boeuf ($135) for customers, he is reminded of his mother.

"My mother and my grandmother would cook it for all 15 to 20 of us. The dish was a Sunday tradition in my family so it reminds me of my mum, who is very far away from me, and those Sundays with my family," says Mr Lozachmeur.

Although the chef has other dishes on his menu inherited from his mother and grandmother, Le Boeuf is one that he prepares exactly the same way as it was done on the Sunday afternoons of his childhood. And why?

The answer for Mr Lozachmeur is simple. "The way my mother did it was the best; I want to keep the flavours and tradition that my mother put into the dish," he says.

He reveals some of his childhood memories of his mother - following her to the market to pick out fresh produce and always seeing her cooking up a storm in the kitchen on weekends.

"One thing I learnt from my mother when it comes to cooking is: always choose the right produce. Her cooking was very ingredient-based and that influences me today. When I was a kid, she would decide what to cook based on what fresh ingredients she could get that day," the chef shares.

And like most mothers, Mrs Lozachmeur would always make an effort to cook her children's favourite dishes. "When she cooked, my mother always put my sister and my happiness before her own," he says.

Shen Tan
328 North Bridge Road, #01-10 Raffles Hotel Arcade
Tel 9107 3028

Ujong's Shen Tan has both fond and funny memories of her mother's cooking. "I was a horribly picky eater, and for the longest time, my mother's cooking was geared towards making me fatter," she says.

However, her mother had unwittingly cooked only low carb foods, making her even skinnier. "Her frustration in her inability to fatten me up was funny," Ms Tan recalls.

While her mother's cooking did not do much to fatten Ms Tan up, it certainly affected her in many ways.

"My mother loves to cook, and was the one who taught me how to cook curries and noodle and all the things I love to eat. She still reads and researches new recipes for dishes I love to eat," says Ms Tan.

Her mother's cooking inspires dishes on Ujong's menu as well. One such dish is the claypot rice with five-spice pork ($23.90), which is similar to Cantonese claypot rice, except Ms Tan and her mother replaced the chicken with Ms Tan's own creation, five-spice pork. Other dishes on the menu inspired by her mother include the har zi meen ($17.90), which her mother cooked in place of instant noodles when Ms Tan was younger.

More dishes from her childhood will be added to the menu - "As it is, most of the menu consists of dishes from my childhood, flavours I grew up with."

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