Gourmet meals at home

Cook like Stroobant Classes de Cuisines Au Saint Pierre 31 Ocean Way, #01-15 Quayside Isle 6438 0887 www.saintpierre.com.sg

Available for lunch on Tues, Wed and Thu

These days, anyone can learn to cook. But it's one thing learning to cook off a YouTube video, and another by attending a class taught by a celebrity chef like Emmanuel Stroobant. And now anyone can do that too, at his new cooking class programme - Classes de Cuisines Au Saint Pierre.

All you have to do is gather a group of five or six people, and together you can book a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday cooking class session from 10am to 12.30pm. Prices start from S$98++ per person depending on the dishes and ingredients, and it includes a lunch at Saint Pierre restaurant right after the class.

Says chef Stroobant: "We believe our core business is restaurants under the Emmanuel Stroobant Group. This private cooking class programme is an extension of our service to our clientele who would like to see us doing things like this... It is a value added service and we get to spend some time with our customers."

The Classes de Cuisines Au Saint Pierre officially launched in July this year, and they come in three courses, according to themes that customers can pick from a pre-set list, or customise according to their needs and preferences.

For instance, the Fine Dining at Home theme will teach you to make homemade potato blinis with caviar, bouef en croute with truffle and foie gras sauce, and a chocolate souffle, while the Gluten-Free theme features quinoa with avocado and home-smoked salmon, rack of lamb with herb crust, and flourless chocolate cake.

Other suggested themes include Classic French, Modern Vegetarian, Cooking with Kids, Entertainment at Home, Big Family Dinner, Vegan Gastronomy, Modern Technology, and Japan Simplified.

Cooking classes aren't new to Saint Pierre, however as chef Stroobant has been doing them for years mostly on an ad-hoc basis. Previously, they would work with corporates to do team-bonding cooking classes, or customise classes for individual customers who make special requests.

"Based on all these random demands, we thought it would be interesting to come up with a cooking class programme that runs on a regular basis," says the chef. "There are more people cooking now than before for many reasons. One reason is it is more cost effective to eat at home with the rising cost of living in Singapore, versus in the past when it was cheaper to eat out."

So far, they have had two private cooking classes since launching the programme, and these have been well received mainly because of the affordable price points.

In terms of his business, the classes work mostly as an alternative marketing platform and an informal market research survey, while his personal goal is to understand his clientele. "Saint Pierre is an intimate restaurant and we try as much as we can to please everyone that walks through the door," he says.

Sit back and enjoy Dinner by Chef Stephan www.dinnerbychefstephan.com

Feel like having a three-course dinner in the comfort of your own home, but don't always have the time to cook it? Chef Stephan Zoisl has come up with a solution - his new gourmet food delivery and takeaway service, simply called Dinner.

Kick off with beef tagliata with short seared Angus beef tenderloin with vine cherry tomatoes, aged parmesan cheese and rocket leaves, followed by a charred cod with potato brandade and seasonal vegetables, topped off with a dark chocolate salted caramel tart with pop rocks and vanilla mascarpone creme.

"It's dinner for really busy people," says chef Zoisl, who adds that he will be preparing all the food at his restaurant Chef's Table on Tras Street.

"People don't want to go eat out every day, and whenever you tapao home it's usually from a hawker centre. After a while you realise it's not the healthiest food out there even though it's far more affordable. So once in a while you need to find something you can trust is good quality," he says.

The idea for Dinner came about two years ago, when chef Zoisl noticed a demand for high quality home-cooked food but found that most delivery businesses focused only on catering to the lunch crowd. So instead of competing with them, he decided to fill the gap by doing dinner delivery instead.

What he intends to do is prepare everything during the day while his restaurant is closed during lunch, and have the food all delivered to customers at their offices in the CBD by about 4pm for them to take home.

"You take the box and go straight home, no more hassle in going out to get food after work. The starters and dessert don't need to be reheated because they're cold, and the main course will be so manufactured so you can just microwave or reheat it in the oven without the quality changing too much," he says.

According to chef Zoisl, he believes that the reason there aren't many of such services out there at the moment is because people don't have the facilities required to do it. Aside from getting a big central kitchen, the other way would be if someone already owned a restaurant and chose not to open in the afternoon so he or she could prepare the takeaways instead of providing lunch service - like what he is doing.

For now, things are just about ready to go, and the website will likely go live by this weekend. He intends to start with a maximum of 30 to 40 packs a day just to get operations running smoothly before taking any more orders. Prices are likely to range from S$30 to S$40 a person, with three regular set menus and one vegetarian set menu to choose from.

From his current kitchen at Tras Street, chef Zoisl will cater to a maximum of about 100 people, but if demand goes any higher then he will be moving the operations to a larger central kitchen instead. Even then, the maximum number of orders per day will be capped at just 300.

He explains: "I would not go higher than that, because if you have to control quality, you cannot talk about quantity. It is not possible in my eyes. For example, I might get into trouble if I cannot import enough good quality tomatoes for whatever reason, and if you promise people good food and tomatoes, they're going to want that. I'd rather make sure that quality will be there at all times."

Variations on a spice Batu Lesung info@batulesung.com www.facebook.com/batulesungspiceco

If there's one thing that every Singaporean craves after an extended overseas trip, it's local hawker fare. Even the best cooks would find it challenging to find the right spices necessary to achieve the flavours of home. But chef Jeremy Nguee hopes to bring those flavours to you, with his new rempah (mixed spices) brand Batu Lesung.

The name Batu Lesung means "mortar and pestle" - the traditional stone contraption for pounding spices - and was founded by him and his business partner Norhuda bte Rabani. She separately started a popular paste-making company Asyura Paste with her husband over 10 years ago.

"The main difference is that this rempah is ready to use straight out of the packet, which means you don't actually have to cook it anymore," explains chef Nguee, who also started gourmet catering company Preparazzi. "We've helped everybody to basically take that five hours of work out. You're just left with the fun bit of mixing the paste into whatever you want."

The recipe for the rempah was developed mostly by Ms Norhuda, and came from an old family recipe that her own mother handed down to her. Variations include a rendang rempah, panggang BBQ marinade, and classic curry.

Aside from being used in making traditional curries however, the fact that it is ready-to-eat means it can be used in more imaginative or contemporary ways, say, as a spread on pizza, or to marinate meat or fish. Suggests chef Nguee: "You can even fold it into a bechamel as a base for a curry souffle. You can mix into cream, strain it, and add gelatin, so it becomes an espuma. So how complicated or simple you want it to be is up to you."

Of course, the recipe has also been updated through chef Nguee's weighing in on certain aspects of it, in order to raise the standard above other offerings that exist in the market.

Some of them are trade secrets, of course, but some examples include the removal of preservatives, stabilisers, colourings, or MSG, plus they use soy bean oil instead of the usual palm oil.

Currently, they are in the "beta" phase of developing Batu Lesung, and are still refining their product after a well-received test run at the recent Food of Asia 2015 at the Singapore Expo, and a pop-up stand at the Singapore Night Festival 2015. According to chef Nguee, the current aim is to have Batu Lesung out in retailers and specialty stores both in Singapore and overseas by the end of the year.

As for his long-term goal, that's to bring Singapore's food out into the world, and show people that our cuisine goes much further beyond the usual suspects such as chicken rice and chilli crab. Through that, he hopes to raise the level of excitement about the traditional products in our local cottage industry,

Says chef Nguee: "By updating it, we can show people that there is a market for traditional cuisine and products that our parents can make. People are already asking me to bring Batu Lesung to places like China, and Korea, and suddenly it's like hey, my mother's paste can let me travel around the world. It's something you can feel proud about."


This article was first published on September 5, 2015. Get The Business Times for more stories.