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The difficulty of simplicity – Octopus, guanciale, roasted garlic, sage

When composing a dish, there’s a ton of questions I always ask myself – What’s the intention, what’s the main focus, how many components, how do I want those components to contribute to the entirety of the dish. In a way, dishes are really like essays – what is the main thesis, what are the arguments, are they good arguments, how do they prove the thesis?

When I was in university doing my psychology undergrad, I tried to use few, but strong arguments in the papers I had to submit. It’s only recently that I have realized that I am trying to do the same thing with the dishes I create. And the dishes I have enjoyed the most are simple but potent. Simple compositions with each component able to stand on its own.

Keeping a dish simple can be difficult. Instead of bombarding the palate with different flavours, you focus on a few flavours but make sure that each is potent and elegant enough to make an impact without overpowering the main act.

This dish was another attempt at simplicity. I just need to keep improving.



Squash Dessert

Squash panna cotta, pumpkin seed butter, squash and smoked maple puree, brown butter and pecan crumble, maple poached squash, sour cream.


Smoked duck breast, parsnip puree, macerated blackberries, graham cracker crust

Title says all. Had some time to use up leftovers, so made this dish.


uni ravioli, ramen reduction, salmon roe, dulse

The pairing of uni and salmon roe is one of the best combinations I have ever tasted. I still remember the first time I had uni and salmon roe on a bowl of sushi rice, it was sublime.

The pairing was the starting point of this dish. I also wanted to express the aroma of the sea, and thats where the dulce came in. The ramen broth is there simply because I had some left over, and it seemed like a good idea. And it turned out to be a great component to the dish.








Cold Roast Beef – crumbs, enoki, onion, mustard

An idea that came from leftovers. One Sunday I had some friends over and I made a steak and salad for dinner – I cooked too much steak, so I had leftovers. The day after I ate the steak and salad, and REALLY loved it, almost more than when it was fresh. There’s something about left over steak. The flavour is different, the bite is a little more firm from the fats being solid again. I felt the flavour of it was very nostalgic of eating roast beef sandwiches from leftovers after a big family dinner. And so that is the whole story behind this dish – leftovers garnished with sandwich ingredients.

The steak was cooked medium rare, then cooled overnight. Garlic and thyme bread crumbs, mustard cream using Kozliks horseradish mustard, triple crunch mustard, pickled and seared onions, crisp enoki mushrooms, caramelized onion puree. DSCF0004

Mugaritz, a simple expression in a world of complexity

“And each one of them also aspired to the virtues of every good haiku: naturalness, subtlety, austerity and simplicity” – taken from the book Mugaritz. 

A few weeks ago, everyone was excited about the new list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. That list came out Monday, the 28th. While I was aware of this list, I cared more for something else – the meal I was about to have in Mugaritz just a few days before the release of said list. This meal was perhaps my most anticipated this year. I’ve been wanting to go for a while. I’ve read the book, and before I knew it I was already in love with the restaurant and the idea of it. In a away, it had me divided. I’ve been to many restaurants where dishes have over 7 components, and I thought those were incredible – complex plating styles, incredible works of art just to see. And then I read the book Mugaritz. I thought “wow, this was something I’ve been thinking about, making things as simple as possible, in one profound bite.” I’ve held a philosophy that the simplest things require the most amount of thought. Their philosophy seemed to coincide with mine.

Needless to say, the restaurant and the meal did not disappoint. I had a wonderful and profound experience. I also experienced something surreal, the mortal and pestle course. A friend of mine already told me about this course. It’s a certain time of the meal where the whole dining room gets the same course. This time, they called the course “Linking…dip of fried bacon and saffron, cornbread”. Despite hearing about this beforehand, it was still surreal just to experience it, to see the entire dining room engaged in the same activity. I took very little photos of the course. To be honest, I was completely engulfed in the moment. I wanted to fully experience that moment unhindered and uninterrupted by any attempts at documenting it. Well, almost. I still took one, haha.

Anyway, I’ll have to abruptly end my tirade there, otherwise I’ll just go on and on. So here are some photos.


A dozen smeared radishes. We were instructed to only eat the radishes. The grass underneath was then part of a later course.


Lacquered duck neck with herbs and dry grains


Sweet white asparagus strings. Black olive gloss


“Cromesqui Royale” of tendons and legumes


Cod tongues in a bone marrow emulsion


The dining room during the mortal and pestle course. Notice the majority of guests standing up.


Caffé latte cookies…Light


The 7 deadly sins “petit fors”


Chorizo week 2

Starting to look like something awesome! Can’t wait for next week. Hope they dry out proper.


Starter Cultures for Charcuterie – 1 week into ageing.

Checked on the chorizo today, and they are looking good!



Drying up nicely. Was a little bit worrying when they filled the entire wine cellar with the smell of garlic. Wouldn’t want those 50 yr old bottles getting tainted.  Thankfully, the smell has subsided and so are my worries.

Interesting though, some of the chorizos are developing different colours. I made 4 types. A control (no bacteria, no mulled vinegar), 1 with only bacteria, 1 with only the mulled vinegar, and 1 with both. It seems that the ones with the vinegar look a bit brighter on the red side while the bacteria and control look to be darker. Could it be that they are drying at different rates? It’s possible, but then they are all under the same temperature and humidity conditions.

Here’s a photo to see the varying colours.



The batches in the middle are the ones with the mulled vinegar, the ones on the sides are the control and bacteria only. Well, another week or so and we’ll see how they look and taste. Cheers!


Charcuterie Starter Cultures

Toronto Food Lab and it’s parent company have teamed up with a company from Spain who has isolated certain strains of starter cultures used in charcuterie. This to me is just truly exciting news. I’ve played around with charcuterie before, but this just brings it to a whole different level. I understand that people have already been using starter cultures. This time though, I get to work with a company that PRODUCES the cultures. Imagine the potential…mixing different cultures to cause different flavours from fermentation. 

Currently all their products are listed in Spanish. Once we’ve translated them and understand what strains they are (be it from the salami, for chorizo, or even jamon iberico), we will start selling them through the website. 

I had a go at some of them and decided to make some sausages just to see for myself what would happen. Some are the control (no cultures added), some with our vinegar food seasoning, and one with the culture. 

Let’s see how they look in a few weeks! 

Nothing like having access to a wine cellar for ageing. 



Alinea, yet again!

So, Alinea once again, and once again blown away. Alinea is quite a different experience for me simply because I’ve been lucky enough to visit several times, 4 to be exact. Whereas other restaurants, incredible as they were, I’ve only been to once. Consistency is one of the biggest challenges of any restaurant, and Alinea has proven to be consistently innovative. More importantly, it is staying relevant. To me at least. There is really something about how they are able to pull off a multisensory experience. Some can call it a gimmick, but if it works, makes sense and doesn’t get in the way of the food, then it rises above being mere smokes and mirrors. To me, Alinea is really THE multisensory experience done right. That being said, I haven’t gone to all the restaurants that do a similar theme.

Just a few of the dishes of the experience.




There is always something special about being able to eat the whole prawn, head, shell and all! The head was my favourite part, delicately crispy and didn’t give me any worries about skewering my gums.



This perhaps exemplifies multisensory and emotional dining. Who would even imagine having a pile of burning coals in front of diners, and on the damn table itself. This was their center-piece. Knowing Alinea, I knew something was up. I knew this was more than just a pile of coals to burn. And I was right. To not give away too much, it becomes part of a dish later on that night.


Yet another dish that makes you wonder what else they could come up with. An edible balloon? I mean, that stuff is just crazy cool.



If you search the Alinea channel in Youtube, you’ll see this dish somewhere there. Though, in that video it was lamb, we had duck 5 ways, with 60 garnishes, yes 60! Still just taken aback at how much prep this dish takes.

As always, I leave Alinea with bittersweet feelings. Glad I dined, sad it had to end. Till next time!