SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - The humble loaf of bread may be the often overlooked sidekick to your main meal, but not it you are at Konstantino Blokbergen's new eatery, Firebake - Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant.
When you see the serious cast iron stoves dating back to 1880 and the hardcore wood-fire ovens, you know he is not out to make little bread rolls and buns.
''Firebake is an experiential destination, where we encourage diners to appreciate breads through food,'' explains Chef Blokbergen, who comes from a family of restaurateurs in Europe and grew up with a love for wood-fire cooking and grilling.
''The concept is about bread being in the centre of the menu creation or inspiration, where bread is part of an essential ingredient on a dish, and not just seen only as slices on a side plate,'' he adds.
Firebake - Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant
Where: 237 East Coast Road
Open: 6 to 10pm ( Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on Mondays.
Info: Call 6440 1228 or go to www.firebake.sg
He intends to bake bread from scratch at his restaurant, using organic flour, non-iodised salt, and wild yeast, and they will be used in multiple dishes whether with pate and charcuterie, as croutons in salads, crushed into breadcrumbs to form a crust on meats and fish, or even desserts.
''It is about the entire holistic approach to historical bread-making techniques, reconnecting with the use of elementary or primitive preparation, methods, and tools to make a loaf of bread,''explains the chef.
For now, Firebake offers four different types of wood-fired sourdough breads: Wave (white), Field (wholemeal), Rock (rye) and Valley (fruit). Of course, this repertoire will expand down the road, and Chef Blokbergen says they eventually include breads made with flour from small batch ancient grains that they mill on their own.
The food will be served in small plates and sharing portions. Prices start from $8 for an anchovy dip with toasted Field bread to $38 for a 300g Rangers Valley Striploin with Jerusalem Artichoke & Chimichurri.
Taking pride of place are two full-scale wood-fire ovens - one dome-shaped one which is larger and designed for high-heat and a higher capacity, and one that is tunnel-shaped so it gives more flexibility and ease in heat control.
These two ovens took six weeks to build, and Chef Blokbergen says they were made ''with 37 tonnes of materials - four types of bricks, plus mortar, gravel, sand and cement. The ovens are fired up every morning with firewood, reaching up to 1,000 deg C. easily, and they retain a baking temperature for over 24 hours.''
His advice for spotting a good wood-fired bread? ''(They) have a distinct crust, which will appear thicker than the conventional breads. The flavours of the bread derive from the sourdough method or fermentation process, bake intensity (colouring), as well as the subtle oven fragrance which should usually deepen over the years.''