While his education in food science has laid the building blocks of understanding food and cooking, Chef Eugene said that growth can only happen when you evolve with those principles and create something new. Which is why diners would come across, eclectic and I must admit to having an initial “hmmm” moment upon reading Green Tea & Bunga Kantan (torch ginger flower) Opera cake or duck confit ser ved with dried prawn butter on the menu. If someone were to ask what cuisine does the Upper Deck serve, it would not be easy to describe. The Senior Sous Chef declares it as “gangster cuisine”where they bend the rules as far as they can in attempts to discover greater potential.
Chef Eugene finds it rather
funny that people here tend to associate steep prices and ambience to fine dining; which some operators may take advantage of and serve sub-standard meals. In his books, fine dining is more about ingredients and how a chef translates these items to a good eating experience. “It’s like going to an art gallery. There is a story behind each piece of art but the audience must have the interest to find out the story to better understand the work”, he said. For example, when you see a splattering of sauce on the plate, it isn’t stinginess but it is because the chefs believe that it is adequate to be in sync with the main item and tell the whole story. The Upper Deck offers a rotating menu and the chefs develop the menu taking into account textural properties, the origins of an item, art as well as science and by putting these factors together, come up with a unique language expressed on a plate. To fully encapsulate the story he wants to tell diners, the chef personally would go with 7-8 courses as it gives him an adequate timeframe to plot his graph – star ting with something simple and light, moving up to bolder tastes and textures (or the climax) before tapering down at the end.
With presentation integral in fine dining, serving gears are important as well and “a different menu needs a different canvas, and sometimes a plate can even be an inspiration for a dish!”, said the chef. Another element of the dining journey is the menu presentation. If we are used to reading in detail how each dish is prepared, you will only see the ingredients list (for awareness to allergies) and certain preparation methods. The purpose is to remove any pre-conceived notions of how food ought to taste but frees the diner to intepret the experience for
themselves as there is no right or wrong.And for the chef, there is no greater satisfaction when a diner shares their personal takeaways on how the food engaged their mind, senses and emotions.