Food

Gluten Free – Grand Hyatt Mezza9

Going to Mezza9 at the Grand Hyatt on Scotts Road is a joy because they know what gluten is! Yes, its true!

On my recent trip there, we were seated and a fresh loaf of bread was placed on our table. As the waitress approached for our order, I told her I was gluten free and she looked extremely concerned and quickly pushed the bread basket as far as possible from me! It made me smile. She was helping me! In Singapore!

One of my favourite dishes here is the Sashimi Moriawase. The seafood is fresh and the best part is that when you ask them for gluten free soy sauce, it arrives promptly. These are the things that excite a food fanatic who can no longer eat gluten. It’s the little things.

I also had the Spencer Gulf Wild King Prawn Cocktail. The prawns were simply, well, just prawns but the cocktail sauce was well balanced with just the right amount of acidity and that lingering mouth flavor that makes you want that little bit more.

I was hoping that I could have the pork chop on the menu and the waitress complied by going to ask the chef if it could be done. And lo and behold it could! It was delicious. The interesting name of Dingley Dell Pork Chop with a Warm Potato Salad, Caramelized Apple and Gravy really hit the spot. The smoky grilling of the pork chop, added flavor and the actual pork its self had a nice layer of fat which kept it tender and moist. The caramelized apple was tart and cooked perfectly, holding its shape long enough for you to be able to get it in your mouth. You can never go wrong with any kind of potato salad as far as I am concerned. I was a happy girl.

The fact that the chefs and the staff know exactly what gluten is and were happy to help, gives Mezza9 a huge nod of my head. I will be back. Gluten free comfort food has my name written all over it.

*image credit to the Grand Hyatt, I was too busy eating to take any photos.

 

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You Forget It All Starts Outside

When it comes to cooking, dining and just enjoying food, we sometimes forget that it all starts outside. Great produce is what makes a great dish and it’s something that I keep being reminded of.

There are two things that I love and its food and being outside. The connection between the two is often forgotten or overlooked but when you remember, your appreciation for what you eat is so much more.

To me, there is nothing as great as stepping outside into the sunshine, fresh air and wide open spaces. As a photographer I look at the light but I also make it a point to step outside every day for pure joy. It helps me to feel more grounded and remember the simple things in life. My friends joke about it because my delight on a sunny day has me even jollier than normal. We call it a ‘Suasti Kind of Day’.

There have been so many times that I have gone to eat in a great restaurant to be amazed at the food but the moment that I think about how long it took to actually grow a certain tomato, raise a piece of kobe or mature a beautiful cheese my appreciation sky rockets. It takes so long! The people who create these products for restaurants to use and put on our plates, go through so much trouble to nurture and take care of their produce. In a world which is about fast consumption, the slow and time honoured way that these producers work makes me think twice about how it ALL starts outside – in nature.

In doing this photoshoot for Odette, we decided to take Chef Julien Royer, outside, to where it all starts with food. We are so used to seeing chefs in the kitchen that we thought the often unspoken symmetry between nature and the kitchen would be a good way to remember exactly where a great dish starts.

julienroyerodette_1

Julien Royer 

With Chef Julien growing up in the country in France we had to shoot this series outside in Singapore, for his restaurant, Odette, named for his grandmother who first taught him to cook. I imagine growing up in France, he spent countless hours outside on the farm, growing vegetables and harvesting them from season to season and perhaps even sitting under a tree and day dreaming about being a great chef one day.

julienroyerodette_3

Julien Royer 

 

For The Love of Food and People

I am by no means a food photographer but I love food. I love photographing people and telling their stories through images that capture their spirit. I have to get to know them and I have to wait for it – the exact right time, the right moment, the look in their eye that shows themselves to me.

Food to me is a central part of everyone’s story. The stories that I try to tell. If I ask someone about their favourite dish or restaurant, their most memorable meal, their eyes will light up and they will tell me with great fervour the details that they remember. Their eyes glaze over or they wave their hands around in excitement the way I do. Sometimes salivating with the sheer memory of deliciousness!

It is so easy to travel these days that cuisines collide, people are influenced from all over the world in the dishes that they prepare. Someone who has lived in many countries takes their mother’s favourite dish with them from country to country, as it is a piece of home. When this happens, they share the story of the dish, the way it was prepared and the love that goes with it to friends who sit at their table.

Food is central to someone’s heritage and no matter how well travelled you are or how many restaurants you go to, there is still something so precious about being invited to share a meal at home. I recently went to visit a friend, and upon leaving, was gifted a box of sweets. My friend is from France, most recently moving from Paris, but the box of sweets was prepared by his mother, who is from Algeria.

paris

The joy that was on his face when he gifted me this box was unmistakable. He was not only proud of his mother but the memories associated with this box of handmade cookies he had eaten his whole childhood, lovingly home made. As he named each cookie, asking me the equivalent of the world in English (one translated to gazelles horns!), I was able to see his childhood and his heritage, just through him describing each cookie. If I had a camera in my hand it would have been the perfect capture, the history – the joy – the memories.

Food is such an amazing way to create memories, to tell stories, to remember the past and to share it forward, it delights me no end. I have so much respect for extraordinary food photographers as it is not an easy task, but to me, it’s the story that goes with the food, the people, and how it was made, how it affected them and the happiness that it brings them. It’s the stories that go with the food that I like to tell.

PS I would have loved to photograph this gorgeous box of cookies however they were all eaten in my house by the time I got around to writing this piece! Good food waits for no one… I’ll be quicker next time!

 

Chef Julien Royer | JAAN | Swissotel | Gluten Free |

It has been months and months since my last blog post and there is so much to catch up on. Something came full circle recently and I just felt the need to put it out there and write about it. Especially if anyone else out there had been struggling the way I had.

August of last year saw me feeling very tired and run down. True, I had been busy but there was no reason for me to feel as dismal as I did. After going to the doctors many times and having lots of tests done we realized that I had become highly sensitive to gluten. I didn’t realize that this naturally occurring protein was prevalent in so many foods and so I went on an elimination diet. This was hard but I was able to do it. Within two weeks I saw a huge change in my levels of energy, just feeling ‘clearer’ and being able to focus better. Incredible after so long.

On one hand I  was delighted to feel better but on the other hand I was devastated about my change in diet. I cried. Literally. I was a girl who loved food. Grocery lists, markets and recipe books were a great way to spend a weekend for me. In Sydney I would spend hours at all the different markets we had nearby and in New York there was so much to look at and discover. I would come home from work and bake bread from scratch, kneading the dough into submission and filling the house with the aroma of fresh bread. Nothing pleased me more than getting a bunch of friends together and cooking for them. It’s always the simple things that make me happiest and food was one of them. Things were definitely not going to be the same. My mental adjustment to this was one of the hardest things I have had to face and I am still dealing with it.

At the same time as I was learning about my food intolerance – work went on as usual. I was requested to go into the kitchen of JAAN to do a profile piece on Chef de Cuisine Julien Royer and his team. The Honeycombers were running an article and needed me.

I remember clearly getting a short slot during their busy lunch period to do my shoot. JAAN is located on the 70th floor of the Swissotel and I had no idea what to expect from the kitchen side of things. I was warmly greeted by the staff though and I got to see first hand what goes on inside the kitchen of a fine dining establishment. Chef Julien Royer and his team were very accommodating and I got images that I didn’t expect to get. The article went live and I was contacted by the marketing team at Swissotel for me to come in again and shoot the team. When you take as much care as I do with other peoples businesses and images it is always so nice to be asked back, its something I value a lot.

JAAN - Julien Royer | Kirk Westaway

On my second visit to the JAAN kitchen I had more time to observe as they allowed me to stay in the kitchen for hours. While I was there I was able to really see and experience what went on. Watching for some time allows me to be able to translate the ‘feel’ of things into imagery. Sometimes just one shot has to tell a whole story.

Julien Royer From an observers perspective, everything that happens in the kitchen at JAAN just flows. There is a rhythm and pace with the team that speaks volumes for Julian Royer and the way he helms the kitchen, a true gentleman. The service was busy as it usually is however the order and deliberateness of everything was a joy to watch. In a busy kitchen there was a sense of peace that I had not observed before. Each person knew their role and it was like an orchestra of musicians that were playing their part for it to all come together beautifully. Even when the pace picked up during the busiest time there was no tension. It was such a pleasing experience to be watching a kitchen run at such a high level of precision, delivering beautiful dishes with fluidity and a sense of fun.

JAAN Team - Krik Westaway, Julien Royer Fast forward to 2014 and I finally go back into JAAN for lunch. Since discovering my gluten intolerance, eating out had not been fun for me to say the least. I was always apprehensive but had been assured that JAAN would be able to cater for me.

I was joined for lunch by Andrea Lui of Frolik and Maria Kuvshinova and Andries de Vos of Clubvivre. All three of my lunch partners were food connoisseurs to say the least and I was in great company.

As I sat, took in the view and enjoyed the amazing courses put before me I felt I really had come full circle from a year ago. My appreciation was heightened even more as I had been in the kitchen and seen first hand what was happening behind the scenes. And I was still blown away.

Chef Julien RoyerThe joy I felt was probably more intense as each of my beautiful dishes was completely gluten free and delicious. As a photographer, the plating was artistic and so visually balanced that I had to pause in mid conversation to let my eyes happily rest on what was in front of me.   As a lover of food, the freshness of ingredients and the execution of each dish had a finesse that I wanted to applaud. Julien Royer had surpassed my expectations. I was surprised, happy and appreciative.

Chef Julian Royer

Chef Julien Royer and his team do an incredible job and the care that they take for people with food intolerances is notable. For many people with gluten sensitivity I am sure you see it as I do – that this level of care has sense of kindness about it. I, for one, was very grateful.

Chef Julien Royer

 

The whole experience starting a year ago has now put me back on track and I am revisiting my love of food. I am sure my friends and I will be back sooner rather than later.

So in sharing this with you, I will close with images my friend Andrea took of the meal. Enjoy.

 

JAAN Egg beetroot photo Granita Hen Hen2 Scallop UniHoneycomb

JAAN Dessert Truffle Ice Cream JAAN