(THE BUSINESS TIMES) - It's not every day that Chinese chefs get to be under the spotlight, which is exactly the reason behind Jumping Table - a series of ad-hoc private dinners organised by chef and food writer David Yip.
"Chinese chefs are very neglected, but after going to China so many times, I realise there are a lot of fantastic chefs. And technically, they are on a par with Western chefs," says Mr Yip. "For the past five years, I've featured them in Jumping Table, which is an exclusive dining event catering to people who appreciate food, and done dishes you can't find in Singapore or forgotten by locals here."
Come September, he has decided to hold the last edition of Jumping Table, with a private dinner for his followers and another one that is open to the public as an exclusive dinner for readers of The Business Times. The latter will be held on Sept 13 and feature at least 12 different dishes - a mix of individually plated and shared - served over the course of about three hours. There are 60 seats available at $120++ a person.
Says Mr Yip: "In the past, dining and entertaining in China was a very grand thing. Formal dinners had three parts, starting with drinks and chit chat over appetisers. Those were the highlights of the dinners, not the main courses. Chefs would show off their knife skills and how delicate they can make these appetisers, even though they aren't meant to fill the stomach.
"The next part will then be main courses like chicken, or rice, before ending with dessert. There are a lot of traditions that people are now not aware of, so I'm going to incorporate that in this dinner," he adds.
Another highlight will be the rare ingredients used in the dishes, as Mr Yip describes: "Foshan food is actually Cantonese food and this dinner is fine dining. It highlights the chef's skills and the food is not spicy at all. There's a focus on rich ingredients, like the superior stock, and we're bringing in a lot of dried goods and delicacies." Some examples include a Phoenix Eye nut that will be used in a frog leg dish, the dried fish lips braised in homemade oyster sauce, as well as bird's nest served in a lotus leaf.
Helming the kitchen that night will be Chef Xu Jingye, a graduate of the Culinary Facility of Foshan School of Higher Learning and chef-owner of 102 Private Kitchen - a renowned restaurant in Foshan that opened in 2006.
Mr Yip chose to fly him in for this dinner because "he's an up-and-coming chef and he is a disciple of one of the top chefs in Foshan".
He adds: "What I like about him is that despite being in his 30s, he's not following other chefs his age and doing modern cuisine. Instead, he focuses on old techniques taught by his teacher and you can see it in his knife skills and the way he cooks. He's like an old soul in a young man's body, something you hardly find anymore."
As for what is next for him once this dinner is over, Mr Yip says: "I will continue to bring more chefs from China to exchange knowledge with our local chefs because I feel both sides have a lot to learn from each other. Next time, it's going to be on a grander scale."
The Business Times exclusive Jumping Table Dinner
WHERE: Lucky 8, 1 Scotts Road, 03-07
WHEN: Sept 13, 7pm
ADMISSION: $120++ a person
INFO: Register at https://goo.gl/gW4k88