Cover Photo: Rempapa

These culinary maestros took inspiration from their childhood eats to curate a nostalgic menu, served at their restaurants

It is common for chefs to plumb through their childhood memories to come up with exciting and delicious menus that keep us coming back for more. That is exactly what four of our favourite cuisiniers in Singapore did when planning for the menus at their new restaurants.

From chef Julien Royer’s chou farci, or hearty cabbage dish inspired by his mum’s recipe, to local champion Damian D’Silva’s lamb rendang, which he learnt from his grandfather, here are four delectable dishes you should try now.

 

1. Rempapa

Lamb has always been the protein of choice in the D’Silva household and Rempapa chef-owner Damian D’Silva shares that his grandfather would always prepare lamb leg rendang for special occasions such as Christmas. “The rendang we grew up with was almost dry, with a rich coconutty and fragrant aroma from all the mixed spices, and it was always fiery,” he recalls. He has introduced his own rendition of the dish at Rempapa, the recently opened restaurant dedicated to what he terms Singapore New Heritage cuisine, preparing it based on his grandfather’s original recipe but tweaked slightly with the addition of a masala blend to complement the spices. He also uses the hogget, a slightly more mature lamb, which is mixed with coconut milk, a concoction of lemongrass, shallots, galangal, fennel and coriander, and masala spices. The mixture is then cooked until it is dry, and the hogget releases a “gentle sweetness” that works well with the mixed spices.

Rempapa, 2 Paya Lebar Road, 01-01/02/03 Park Place Residences at PLQ, S(409053), +65 9459 1603

Don’t miss: New Restaurant Alert: Chef Damian D’Silva Serves Up Long-Forgotten Local Dishes at Rempapa

2. Claudine

The menu at Claudine, chef‐patron Julien Royer’s latest French restaurant, which is named after his mum, was inspired by the simple joys of home cooking. In fact, it is a collection of quintessential French recipes and dishes that he grew up eating, one of which is his mother’s chou farci. “The stuffed cabbage is the dish that she would cook to make the entire family happy and leave everyone smiling,” he shares. His mum would prepare it by first blanching the Savoy cabbage leaves until they were soft and tender, before layering with a mixture of leftover pork, brunoise carrot and dried prunes to “balance out the richness”. Royer elevates this recipe with the addition of Gascon bacon and a slice of foie gras for extra indulgence. The dish is then assembled layer by layer to recreate the shape of the cabbage before it is slow braised in its own juices and basted with pork jus to amplify the flavours. Best shared with loved ones. “This hearty recipe conveys our sense of the joys at home,” says Royer.

Claudine, 39C Harding Road, S(249541), +65 6265 2966 

Also read: Here’s What You Can Expect From Chef Julien Royer’s New French Restaurant, Claudine

3. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar is famed for its classic American comfort foods which, of course, includes fried chicken. Its Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken is crafted from a 100‐year‐old recipe by founder John Kunkel’s grandmother.  “It’s a secret family recipe that we haven’t tweaked and that’s what makes it so good,” he shares. To ensure its authentic taste, the Singapore culinary team went through many rounds of experimentation to find the right type of poultry, flour and ingredients for the brine. “We start with a 27‐hour brine,” expounds Kunkel, before the chicken parts are dredged in a secret seasoned flour and pressure‐fried until the meat is juicy and the skin, crispy. It is served on its own with a house‐made honey hot sauce, or as part of the signature Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles, which comes with cheddar cheese waffles, spiced watermelon and bourbon maple syrup.

Don't miss: 5 Best Korean Fried Chicken Joints in Singapore

4. Curate Cucina Pisana

Davide Bizzarri, the chef de cuisine of Italian restaurant Curate Cucina Pisana, comes from a family of food lovers. Hailing from Pisa, he vividly recalls his mother preparing an Italian feast at the weekends, comprising favourites such as sausage ragout and tiramisu, cooked using family recipes passed on from one generation to the next. These fond memories have led Bizzarri to include one of his childhood favourites, the maccheroni di Toscana with sausage ragout, on his current menu. “I made some adjustments to the recipe based on the availability of ingredients here in Singapore,” he shares. So instead of importing pork sausages from Italy, he sources the base ingredients locally to cure his own sausages in‐house. These form the base of the ragout, which is slow‐cooked for four to five hours until all the rich and meaty flavours are imbued in the sauce, before the al dente maccheroni is mixed in.

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