Asian Culinary Adventure With 2am:lab

About 5 months ago I was contacted by Jonathan Sparber, the resident chef at 2am:lab in Singapore.  He asked if I was interested in being a guest chef and collaborating on several dining events there.  I was a bit surprised, I had no idea they even knew who I was.  After all, with no restaurant or permanent location, I was unclear to who knew about CR8.

They said they had been following my CR8 dining events, and loved the direction and dining concepts I was putting on and experimenting with.  I, in turn, had been following them for the better part of the last year as they were bringing in food artists and creative chefs where they too emphasized in conceptual dining.

2am:lab is the brain child of Janice Wong, who 5 years earlier opened 2am:dessert bar, a fantasy dessert bar,  where she showcases her incredible sucrose talents and mind blowing dessert interpretations.

I was to come to Singapore, taste the local cuisine and then use local products to create an 8 course tasting menu with them. The idea was extreme and I was inspired by the challenge.  No sending in recipes of some of my prior dishes, I was going in raw.  I suggested we come up with a concept and build a dinner around that.  After several skype meetings, the concept was born.  “Illustrious Magic”, The concept of traveling magicians from the last centuries, who were using their talents in illusion to entertain and amuse the crowd. Researching deep into the elements of magic, ritual, tradition, occult and mysticism.  I found the concept inspiring and I knew it would provide a creative platform for a special dining event.  So the collaboration began with combining styles to create a menu.  This proved to be exciting and very much resembled musicians jamming to make a song.  The music continued….

The towers where 2am:lab resides and the outside entrance to the lab.

Janice Wong, a pastry genius and a woman of many talents!

Jonathan Sparber, an accomplished and creative chef and amazing guy!  It was a pleasure creating dishes together with him.

Foraging in the rain for exotic flowers and herbs

Fruit tasting became a daily thing.

Honbushi, smoked and aged amberjack tuna.  Shavings from heaven………photo by Janice Wong

Filling pouches with edible rocks and filling cauliflower with curry brioche puree before resting in a bath of fried tempura……….photos by Janice Wong

Happiness and Zen in the kitchen……….photos by Janice Wong

All hands on deck and super focused.

Sunset before the guests arrive.

The entrance to the event was laden with eerie candles, and a peculiar arrangement of mannequin hands, they resembled hand movements of a magicians hands during spells and incantations.

Diners were engaged in spells, rituals and obscure directional dining as to complete the magical dining concept……….photos by Janice Wong

Interaction on all levels in action at the table……….photos by Janice Wong

Kingfish going through an elaborate process of curing to be featured in the first course, Sea Garden Spell.

Sea Garden Spell first course and served in a box.

Diners removed the lid and were handed a pouch of edible rocks to shake on top of the course, but not until they made their own private wish.

Sea Garden Spell: Kingfish cured in pomelo, sake and young ginger, jasmine rice cream, garden herb snow, puffed quinoa, pickled hibiscus flowers, young ginger gel.  Accompanying cocktail, cucumber and green tea water, champagne, passionfruit

Ritual: liquid pepper crab, 63C egg yolk, whipped citrus buttermilk, frozen peanut powder, curry leaf, galangal butter, spring onion, spoon made of Indonesian cinnamon bark

Mystical: Honbushi, yellow tail tuna shavings, miso cured egg yolks, soursap, bitter sphere, floral lemongrass oil

A local coffee shop and roaster named Jimmy Monkey, custom roasted 2 blends of coffee to be featured in the next course. (Fyi, they have a Slayer espresso machine and they pull stellar shots!)

Perceptive Illusion: Tofu misozuke noodle, acacia smoked shitake, candied mandarin peel, coffee zinfandel puree, fennel, multi grain crisp

Hallucination: Cauliflower textural, black olive paste, curried brioche puree, tempura, honeycomb

The Offering: The dark side of magic. Conceptually intertwining the element of supernatural magic of bird offerings and using a quail stuffed with it’s own diet and faux blood sauce.  The diners were to remove the black cloth to find the bird in Offering.

………photo by Janice Wong

 

Shaplessness: Rambutan snow, liquid avocado, aloe vera, honey, crispy banana, ginger flower bubbles, lime caramel

Pineapples with incredible flavor being prepped for the main dessert called Reflection.

Reflection: Dark chocolate textural, burnt pineapple, bamboo charcoal, sesame milk cremeaux, chili sesame prailine, anise greens. Served with a warm chai with vanilla spice butter.

It was served on two separate and separated dish pieces and placed on the dining table.  The diner needing to connect the pieces together for the finale.

The assembly of a chai cocktail………photos by Janice Wong

Special thanks to Janice and Jonathan and everyone at the Lab and the Dessert bar who helped make this event happen!

Intrigued and inspired by my journey to Asia in ways I still don’t understand.  In addition, the flavors of the street food is the best i’ve ever had.  The people I met, I now call them friends and i’m sure I will see them again.  Most importantly, a rare connection that touched my soul and surrounded my senses allowing an exploratory expression of visions, concepts and inspirational processes.  The best gift of all..