The chef-owner of Nouri talks soul food and his concept of crossroads cooking

There are two values that Ivan Brehm, chef-owner of one Michelin-starred restaurant Nouri subscribes to in work and life: remembering his roots and making an impact with his food. The Brazilian chef, who honed his skills in some of the world’s greatest kitchens including Per Se in New York and The Fat Duck in London, believes that “it is important to keep in mind what your mentors have taught you”, and attributes his career successes to this.

(Related: On The Pass: Do We Need Another Fine Dining Restaurant, Asks Ivan Brehm Of Nouri)

Before opening Nouri in 2017, Ivan helmed the kitchen of Bacchanalia from 2013 to 2016, earning the renowned local restaurant a Michelin star during his last year there. Now with his own restaurant, the Generation T 2018 honouree champions a culinary style he describes as “crossroads cooking”. His dishes are inspired by different elements from around the world, and highlight the similarities and connections between cultures.

Insisting that his diners enjoy meaningful experiences with a personal touch, Ivan drops a hint of his menu at the start of every meal. “We give them a short message on a piece of paper that says, ‘What you nourish, nourishes you’. Regardless of how creative we try to be, if we’re not nourishing our guests, it’ll just be an experience that ends when they foot the bill.” 

Tatler Asia
Image: 123RF
Above Image: 123RF

Sourcing for ideas

“Inspiration should come from everywhere. If you start to rely too much on only one source, then I don’t think you’re on the right side of creativity.”

Quirky business

“Every now and then, when things get stressful in the kitchen, I catch myself unconsciously sticking out my tongue and biting down on it. I must have unknowingly picked this up from French chef Claude Bosi, whom I used to work with when I was younger. He did the same thing whenever he was stressed out!”

(Related: How Bacchanalia Is An Incubator For Top Talents)

Tatler Asia
Image: Robin Thang
Above Image: Robin Thang

Come together

“Each dish on our menu at Nouri is an attempt to bring our diners closer to the vision we have of making the world less divided. We hope to help our diners see how their cultures are intrinsically connected and how they can be linked to each other through a shared experience.”

Music matters

“Music inspires me. Anything with a groove that I can jive to really helps to put me in the right frame of mind and stimulates my creative juices before I start cooking, which is great especially when I’m plating a dish.”

(Related: A Drink With... Novelist Balli Kaur Jaswal)

Ivan says…

My go-to comfort food…
My grandma’s cheesy toast
Famous people I’ve cooked for…
Chow Yun Fat and Queen Elizabeth II
A chef I want to work with…
Massimo Bottura of three Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Italy
The best way to relax…
Spending the day at the beach
Favourite drink…
A negroni with a dehydrated orange slice

Tatler Asia