Future of food discussed at culinary summit

The future of food in the modern kitchen was at the forefront of discussions at the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2015 Summit.

The culinary conference on Sunday was themed The New Modern: 2015 And Beyond and it brought together the very best of French, Indian and Peruvian cuisine as well as pastry.

It was held at 72-13, the Mohamed Sultan Road home of TheatreWorks, and attended by 170 local and international chefs, restaurateurs, media and industry professionals.

With Peruvian cuisine making waves now, four chefs from Lima, also known as the Tiger's Milk Gang, showcased the best of ingredients from their country. The name refers to the citrus-based marinade used to cure seafood in ceviche.

The chefs are Gaston Acurio of Astrid Y Gaston (No. 18 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list), Virgilio Martinez of Central (No. 15 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list), Mitsuharu Tsumura of Maido (No. 11 on Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list) and Rafael Piqueras of Maras.

Chef Acurio, hailed as Peru's food ambassador, spoke of the "huge biodiversity, recipe heritage and multicultural society" that have propelled the cuisine to the international stage.

Another cuisine in the limelight is the progressive Indian cooking of chef Gaggan Anand of Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand. His restaurant is No. 3 on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list and No. 17 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list.

In his eatery, he re-interprets Indian street food such as papadum. And looking to harness technology in his cooking, his restaurant is undergoing renovation to add a curry house and kitchen laboratory.

Three-Michelin-starred Yannick Alleno, of Alleno Paris and Stay in Beijing and Taipei, spoke of the future of French cuisine by using the "DNA of French cuisine" - sauces. He has been doing extensive work on using and creating sauces with new techniques. "Sauce is very important. It ties a dish together and you look at and taste things differently."

Cuisine aside, the dynamic duo of chef Daniel Humm and general manager Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park in New York set the scene for modern restaurants of the future, talking about how the front of house works with the kitchen to create memorable dining experiences.

They also spoke of their trust in each other and how they developed their kitchen camaraderie through their decade-long friendship. Humm gave the example of New Year's Eve last year, when he walked out of the kitchen at 1am to see the bartender pouring and drinking shots with the diners.

He says: "I thought to myself, he is working and drinking on the job? Then I looked to Will, who was having a good time even though he saw the same thing. I got angry, but he didn't. I trust the way he runs the dining room and figured that there's a reason he's not angry. If the bartender had acted like a cook and didn't engage with the guests, it wouldn't have been a New Year's Eve party."

Also speaking on interaction with diners, local pastry chef Janice Wong of 2am: dessertbar and her eponymous sweet shop in Ion Orchard talked about Pastry Play. Known for her whimsical exhibits, the winner of Asia's Best Pastry Chef in 2013 and last year showcased her edible art through chocolate balloons that the audience was allowed to smash and eat.

There were light-hearted moments as well, as chefs mingled with one another and some goofed around during a photoshoot and carried chef Wong.

The afternoon rounded off with a panel discussion on the topic, Modern Asian Cuisine - Fab or Fad?. Issues raised included the preservation of traditional food heritage.

The chefs also attended the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants award ceremony at Capella Singapore last night, on top of cooking at restaurants for guests and media as well as hosting cooking masterclasses.

For the list of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2015, go to www.theworlds50best.com/asia/en/