STORY BY LEILA BOTHAM
Quickly earning a reputation as South East Asia’s definitive haute cuisine event, Chefs with Altitude staged a spectacular return to the luxurious Swissôtel The Stamford, Singapore from 3rd to 11th November.
Once again for 2012, Chefs with Altitude has composed a panel of inspired and talented young chefs to wow local foodies in some of the most desirable and sumptuous restaurants and bars in Singapore. This feasting extravaganza is hosted across four of Swissôtel The Stamford’s venues; the modern and intimate Jaan, the ever-exclusive Equinox, uber-chic New Asia bar and the sophisticated City Space. Guests have the opportunity to take in the spectacular views from the lofty heights of one of the tallest hotel towers in South East Asia whilst drinking and eating award-winning culinary creations.
The by-invitation only opening party was to be hosted on the Swissôtel’s helipad, but unfortunately the weather gods had other plans. Yet, relocating the opening party to New Asia bar was a masterful Plan B. Guests sipped delicious cocktails created by imported mixologists Dan and Ash Bovey, were entertained by London’s premier circus noir, Cirque du Soir and DJs were spinning tracks until dawn.
This year’s line-up of gastronomic gifts was courtesy of Normandy-born David Toutain, London’s well-respected Adam Byatt and Canadian candy connoisseur Natascha Schwartzer.
Chefs in focus
David Toutain opened Agapé Substance in Paris last year after 15 years working with masters like Alain Passard, Marc Veyrat and Andoni Luis Aduriz. With an interior evocative of Scandinavian minimalism mixed with Parisian flair, his 26-seater open kitchen restaurant is located in the stylish St-Germain-des-Prés precinct.
Enticed away from the frosty Parisian autumn for his stint at Chefs with Altitude, Toutain took up residence at JAAN, arguably Singapore’s best French restaurant led by Chef de Cuisine Julien Royer. Lunch and dinner reservations were offered, with prices ranging from a 3-course menu for SGD $68 per person, to a 7 course indulgence for SGD $268
Not to be outdone by his continental counterpart, Chef Adam Byatt hails from the UK and his acclaimed Trinity restaurant is located in the affluent Clapham Old Town in London’s south-west. An impressive list of awards trail behind him, including three prestigious AA rosettes, “Time Out Best New Restaurant”, and The Times UK top 100 restaurants for his work at Trinity.
Byatt embraces classic British fare – scotch eggs, curd’s and whey, Yorkshire pudding and beef wellington regularly feature on his menus, but you would be mistaken to think that his cuisine would resemble Gran’s Sunday family dinner. Elevated British cuisine ruled supreme at Equinox restaurant for Chefs with Altitude.
Byatt offered dinner bookings with a 7-course menu for SGD $178, with an a la carte menu also available for those unable to stomach a mighty seven courses.
Whilst the old British and French rivalry played out in the towering Swissôtel, the organisers of Chefs with Altitude certainly did not leave those of us with a sweet tooth lacking for culinary adventure. Master chocolatier Natascha Schwartzer pampered guests at the Chocolate High Tea also held in Equinox Restaurant.
Born and bred in Canada, Natascha fell in love with chocolate, particularly its elegance and scope for creativity. She refined her skills in Switzerland at a young age, which led to her joining Lindt & Sprüngli as show chocolatier and demonstrator. Many people would be overjoyed to work in Chocolate Nirvana, but Natascha parted ways with Lindt and moved to Australia to craft celebrated desserts at Balzac restaurant in Sydney’s posh Eastern Suburbs. In 2009 she returned to the home of chocolate, Switzerland (Belgians may disagree), and is the manager of the Zurich Chocolate Academy. For SGD $55 per person, guests devoured Natascha’s delicacies at Equinox and may have repopularised the not-so-humble high tea in Singapore!
Whilst Chefs with Altitude seems to be all about food, for those of us who enjoy a more beverage orientated experience, Ash and Dan Bovey were the resident mixologists at City Space every night serving up their specialist cocktails. Hailing from the UK, Ash and Dan have won several international competitions and you would normally find them mixing a Mint Julep or a Negroni at the celebrated Sahara in Berkshire’s Reading.
Yet the pièce de résistance and the place to be on Sunday 11th November was the Ultimate Brunch at Equinox Restaurant. Toutain, Byatt, Schwarzer and the Boveys joined forces to produce one of Singapore’s most sought-after tickets.
After the extremely successful and delicious Chefs with Altitude 2012 attracting some of Europe’s best food and drink professionals to Singapore, we are awaiting the announcement of the 2013 programme with baited breath. Be sure to keep your ear to the ground for news of this year’s event, as places will book quickly.