SATS Shares Grandma’s Secrets

Culinary collaboration with Singapore Chefs’ Association uncovers the secrets of traditional family recipes  

  • 03:07 PM, 7 Aug, 2018

Mr Alex Hungate, President and Chief Executive Officer, SATS (centre) with the Chefs

(Singapore, 7th August 2018) Every traditional recipe has a secret ingredient that transforms the taste and flavour of a dish. From yellow fermented beans from Pu Ning in Chao Shan province of China, to fresh red mushrooms that turn a bowl of soup into “liquid gold", the Singapore Chefs’ Association (SCA) National Culinary Team works in collaboration with chefs from SATS to create exciting new menus using secret ingredients handed down over generations.

Red Mushroom with Pork Rib Soup

“Singaporeans love their food and they love to discover culinary innovations that their friends haven’t seen yet. They love to take pictures of dishes and post them on social media,” stated Mr Alex Hungate, President and Chief Executive Officer, SATS delivering the opening address at an event at SATS headquarters In Singapore. “We want to show to visitors to Singapore some of the local dishes that they may not have experienced on their visit.” 

The team has created over 70 recipes that reflect Singapore’s rich cultural tapestry and heritage. Drawing inspiration from their heirloom recipes, they created culinary gems from Cantonese, Hainanese, Hakka and Teochew dialect groups and Peranakan culture. Dishes such as Cantonese Braised Beef Short Rib and Tendon with Radish, Hainanese Duck with Pineapple and Bamboo Shoots, Hakka Red Mushroom with Pork Rib Soup, Peranakan Spicy Prawn with Sataw Beans, and Teochew-style Twice Cooked Garoupa, will get travellers nostalgic about grandma’s cooking.

Eric Low, Chef of SCA who created the Teochew dish stated: “The yellow fermented beans from Pu Ning in Chao Shan, China enhance my dish’s simple seasoning and make a great difference to my recipe. The water in Chao Shan is pristine, and the area is famous for its fermented beans. My forefathers came from that region in China, and it has been a family tradition to use only fermented beans from Chao Shan.”

Pastry Chef Ben Goh who has won many accolades for his creations, said, “I grew up in Malaysia where gula melaka is regularly used to sweeten a dessert. I created a gula melaka ice cream to go with the warm pisang mas crumble in my dessert, giving it the right balance of flavours.”

 Desert Arrives

Desert is tasted

Rick Stephen, Director of Kitchens at SATS said: “Travellers are familiar with typical Singaporean dishes like Laksa and Chicken Rice, but there are more home-grown Singaporean dishes that are less well known. We want to create greater awareness for such traditional family food to add more variety to the local culinary experience. Our collaboration with the SCA National Culinary Team will allow more travellers to taste these culinary treasures.” 

Rick, talking to the media along with Kong Kok Kiang, (KK) Treasurer Singapore Chef’s Association, and Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore, Executive Chef Louis Tay, explained the reason that Hokkien food wasn’t included in this group. “We already have a number of Hokkien dishes as part of the menu. We wanted to include dishes that perhaps visitors to Singapore wouldn’t have experienced.”

Kong Kok Kiang (left) Rick Stephen (centre) Louis Tay (right)

Chef Louise said that he had learned to cook dishes, such as samba chili, from his mother. “In making this dish, I knew that I was making it for the airlines, so I didn’t go overboard.” Tastes change at 30,000 feet so they are tested in a special pressurised room that replicates the interior of an airplane.  “We make changes to the dish so that it is more suitable to be served at 30,000 feet.”

“The dish I created is a Cantonese dish. Soup fish noodle,” stated KK. “Cantonese love soup. When we adjust the dish to be used inflight we might add a little more yellow bean sauce or adjust the salt.”

“There are some dishes that you simply can’t do for an airline. You can’t do hash browns because you can’t get them crisp like they need to be,” Rick explained.

SATS works with the airlines to get them the right dishes for their customers. “It takes six months for a new dish to be used on a flight,” Rick explained. Menus on regional flights are changed weekly.

SATS has a long-standing relationship with the National Culinary Team from SCA. Chefs at SATS coach and mentor chefs from the national team to compete in the world-renowned Culinary Olympics. Held every four years, more than 2500 gourmet chefs from around the world will compete over two days to cook an elaborate list of hot and cold dishes in glass kitchens. Singapore won the top accolade in the 2016 edition, beating participants from 30 other countries.

SATS is the first aviation caterer in the world to form a team of in-house culinary consultants. The team of 52 chefs from SATS has developed their signature Singaporean cuisines such as Laksa and Chicken Rice, which have become all-time favourites among passengers. Also, they work alongside celebrity chefs from China, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea to create authentically Asian and international dishes for its airline customers. 

The SCA National Culinary Team

The SCA National Culinary Team comprises seven members – team manager Mr Kong Kok Kiang, executive chef at Sentosa Golf Club; team captain Mr Nixon Low, executive chef at Tung Lok Group; Ms Sherine Lim, sous chef at Purple Sage; Mr Sebastian Wong, chef de partie at Odette; Mr Hoo Zhi Hao, sous chef at Lavish Catering; Mr Jason Goh, pastry chef at Grand Copthorne Waterfront; and Mr Koh Han Jie, sous chef at Collin’s.

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