Rebels in kitchen: Singapore based chef creates unconventional menu with Mumbai based counterpart

Nov 18, 2017, 14:21 IST | Phorum Dalal

Singapore-based chef Bjorn Shen creates a menu with his Mumbai counterpart Gresham Fernandes, and it promises to be unconventional

"Some of my interviews are really bold, and I have been told to be prim and proper. So, no dirty jokes today," Singapore-based chef Bjorn Shen, who is in the city to create a collaborative menu at Social for the Singapore Weekender in collaboration with St+Art India Foundation, jokes.

Grilled Halloumi
Grilled Halloumi

Dressed in brown chinos and a white shirt, Bjorn has a maverick air about himself. The chef, who finds people-management tedious, and easily breaks phones, either by throwing and smashing them or dunking them in the toilet pot, earned the title of a rebel early on in his career, when he dropped out of Le Cordon Bleu and opened Artichoke in 2010. "No one names themselves that. We were known for doing things against the trend, of course, not on purpose.

Burrata
Burrata

So, they named me rebel, bad boy and even renegade," says Shen, who has no qualms describing his style as rebellious. From a fried chicken skin ice cream, to an (anti)salad made from the snack aisle of a supermarket, and a dish of instant noodles he sells for $18 - it's safe to assume that most chefs wouldn't dare do such things.

Chicken donut. Pics/Sameer Markande
Chicken donut. Pics/Sameer Markande

As Gresham Fernandes, dressed in his kitchen uniform of a black tee, shorts and a cap, joins us, it's interesting to note that he too flaunts a tattoo on his right calf that reads 'Rebel'. In July, the Impressario culinary director visited Singapore with the St+art team.

Chefs Gresham Fernandes and Bjorn Shen
Chefs Gresham Fernandes and Bjorn Shen

Their food tour guide for the day was Shen, who took them across the underbelly of Singapore, where they attacked the street food on Haig Road, eating dishes like chicken floss bun and handmade fish bowl noodles, and chendol, a coconut cream dessert with palm sugar syrup. Fernandes in turn took Shen to eat at Rajasthan (the Mughlai restaurant in Khar) and Jude Bakery, and for a walk in the bazaar when he came down three weeks ago.

"I made him try puri bhaji, Bombay sandwich, and tender coconut ice cream," says Fernandes, confessing he was bowled over by Shen's book on Artichoke, which narrates the everyday story of kitchens. "It shows you the real picture of what goes on behind the scenes. The cuts, burns and the dirty side of it. I read that and I was like, this guy knows what he is doing; those are the answers I would give," he adds, happy to have found the perfect fit for a collaborative menu for Social.

For the collaboration, Fernandes helped Shen with the ingredients and the staff. The menu leans towards Shen's food philosophy and his homeland. "I am making six dishes that represent me, Singapore and my India inspiration," he shares.

On the menu is a grilled halloumi cheese with burnt carrots from his restaurant, a truffle potato pani puri with pickled cauliflower, and Uncle William crab curry dip with fries. But, you'll begin with a cocktail. "Here's a Singaporean chef who cooks Lebanese," grins Fernandes, who gave his inputs on the cocktail.

Shen says, "At Artichoke, we make a lemonade on weekends, because we don't want to squeeze lemons all week. It has rose, mint and pomegranate. Gresham suggested we spike it with gin, and garnish it with cucumber. That's a good start to a meal, right?"

Launches on: November 20
At: Social outposts across the city
Call: 65226324 (Khar)

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