AT ONLY 36, Adriano Teng seems awfully young for an executive chef.
Teng's approach to cooking is fresh, innovative and in keeping with the city's current gastronomic pulse, which is clearly reflected in how he presents his food.
"Young chefs like to cater to the demand of today's crowd, which is food that is straightforward yet different," he said, while whipping up a few ''sosaku'' dishes at the modern, zen-like kitchen of Still Waters, the hotel's flagship restaurant.
''Sosaku'' refers to modern Japanese cuisine with influences from various parts of the world - which is very much up Teng's alley.
"I use European ingredients, play around with herbs and apply modern presentations to the food, but the basic Japanese rules still apply at this restaurant," he said.
This is deja vu for Teng, who is trained in French cuisine.
"French restaurants here are now serving modern French food with contemporary presentations, too," said Teng, who worked at the established La Fitte kitchen for nine years before taking on his current position.
His aptitude for contemporary cooking enabled him to make an eager and seamless transition from modern French to modern Japanese cuisine at Hotel Maya.
"Japanese cuisine is all about freshness," he said, while preparing Mango, Prawn, Avocado Timbale.
A personal recipe, the timbale is a simple yet delectable combination of diced avocadoes, mangoes and prawns, served with homemade wasabi mayonnaise and a tangy home-made salad dressing.
The same concept of freshness also applied to Teng's signature main dish - Grilled Beef with Wasabi Sauce.
Chilled fresh Australian tenderloin is lightly seasoned before it is grilled and served with wasabi sauce and a variety of mushrooms.
An important condiment to the dish, the wasabi sauce is a hearty mixture of wasabi powder, dashi stock, soy sauce, garlic puree and parsley juice, all cooked with a little butter.
"The parsley juice gives the wasabi a nice green tinge," he said, while preparing Fillo Pastry Banana Tart as the finale to the short cooking lesson.
When I pondered aloud which part of the dessert was Japanese, Teng replied with a grin: "It's served with green tea ice cream."
Undeniably, the confluence of East and West can bring out the best in gastronomy, but on an overall note, it could be safe to expect more from the creative Teng, who does not seem averse to sharing his knowledge.
"The hotel may be looking into conducting cooking classes. We'll see," he said as a parting shot.
Source : STAR
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