Hello readers! Sorry for the lack of updates these few weeks. It’s been a flurry of events for all of us at TummyTroll this July. We’re glad to announce that all of us are finally back in sunny Singapore, the homeland we affectionately regard as the little red dot on the world map (with more good food than land space, probably). Time to load up on our tummies with local fare… That aside, we have also been working on a new section on the blog – Why not feature some of the young innovative foodies who have inspired us to strive harder at cooking?
Introducing… TummyTroll Star Interviews, a brand new series interviewing young foodies ranging from budding chefs to established entrepreneurs. And the first person to kickstart this series is Jewel Tai, a 19-year-old Singaporean student at the Le Cordon Bleu (London) culinary school. I can’t boast to know her well but I’d long noticed this junior since secondary school days. One look at her bronzed skin and long silky tresses might mislead you into thinking she’s a professional athlete – But hey she’s actually one hell of a pretty good cook! One might also be curious as to why Jewel has chosen to enrol in a culinary school away from home when she could have just taken the “conventional route” to an ordinary university degree. Let’s find out more from Jewel and gain some insights:
Hello Jewel! Would you like to tell us more about yourself?
I fancy cooking up meals for other people. I find much joy in bringing hearty meals to people especially when I see their faces of delight. I particularly enjoy planning every aspect of the meal, from the blueprint of food presentation details to the cooking and assembly of components. I like understanding the science behind cooking as well – It is truly intriguing!
In my free time, I take pleasure in writing songs and playing them on my guitar. I love photography, especially at places that people do not go. In my leisure time, I enjoy running 10km routes and doing exercise – Drills and physical training (push-ups, crunches etc.) Also, I tend to carry out meaningful conversations with people, and I find them very fulfilling.
Ooh! So why did you choose to enrol at Le Cordon Bleu straight after high school?
Something in me just wanted to break away from the norm of going straight to university. I believe that the most important thing is to do something you are truly passionate about. It is precisely passion that will bring you to places and carry you through the most challenging trials. At such a young age, it is the best time to pick up new things, try out various courses and explore a whole variety of options that the world has to offer, rather than just playing it safe and restricting yourself to what you think will provide you security.
I know that Le Cordon Bleu has the best to offer – In terms of inculcation of fundamental techniques that will ultimately form the foundation of culinary techniques and the beauty of food. Personally, I’d rather invest in the best school possible right from the start so that I can be grounded in the correct techniques from an early age. I have a flair for cooking and have always enjoyed eating good food, so I decided to develop the talent that I have and not let it go to waste.
That’s a really brave decision! Are your parents and friends supportive?
My parents and friends are extremely supportive! My parents have been supportive right from the very start, so I had no difficulty convincing them to support me in going to chef school. In fact, they were the ones spurring me on to go for it. I am truly blessed to have parents like that – Allowing me to chase the dream that’s in my heart.
Many of us are curious about Le Cordon Bleu. How is a typical day at school like?
Classes are usually alternating between demonstrations and practicals. At demonstrations, the teaching chefs will show exact techniques that we are to replicate in the practicals for selected dishes. Usually, in demonstrations, teaching chefs will also demonstrate the cooking of other related dishes (that we do not have to replicate in the practical class).
Can we have a few peeks at what you’d been cooking at Le Cordon Bleu?
Stuffed (Scallop and Lemon Sole Mousse with Chervil) Fillets of Salmon with Sorrel
Yum! Have you been cooking or helping out in the kitchen since young?
Yes! From an early age, my mother has always made an effort to get my siblings and I involved in the home kitchen, exposing us to various basic techniques and food varieties. She has shown us how to clean, prepare and cook a myriad of food for everyday home-cooking.
Have you come up with any of your own creations in the kitchen?
Seared Salmon | Sauteed Potato Spaghetti | Turned Mushrooms | Brown Shrimp | White wine & White wine vinegar Courgette-infused Fish Sauce with a hint of lemon and shallot | Chopped Parsley
Minute steak | Emincer of sauteed courgettes | Shallots and Leek sauteed in celery-infused oil with a dash of sherry vinegar | Cream sauce with paprika, white-wine and coriander enriched with butter | Chopped baby parsley
Boeuf Stroganoff with Vegetable Rice
Roasted Wild Boar with Sage Chiffonade | Mashed Potato with Lingonberry Jam | Honey Mustard and White Wine Sauce with Shallots | Raisin-Oregano Paste
Brownie Biscuit Base | Cinnamon Light Biscuits | Apricot in Syrup | Light Almond Cream | Cinnamon Biscuit coated in White Chocolate Swirls | White-Dark Chocolate | Gold Dusting
I would encourage budding young chefs to be bold and daring to try out various combinations of food, and never to take any bad outcome as a failure, but as a stepping stone of experience. Do not allow setbacks to cause you to give up, but know that through perseverance you will truly find enriching experiences.
Jewel busy in the kitchen with her own Crème Caramel (we have also tried our hands at this challenging dessert before)! Looks like we have lots to learn from Jewel :)
Enough about cooking for now. So what is your favourite Singaporean hawker food?
I particularly enjoy minced-meat noodles (mee-pok)!
Guess you might miss mee-pok alot while in London. How about your favourite international cuisine?
I enjoy French and Italian cuisine. I love the way the French can utilize the simplest of ingredients to bring out such flavour in food. The way Italian cuisine incorporates herbs into food is simply incredible. Less is more.
Guess that comes to the end of our short interview with Jewel! Feel free to leave your encouraging comments for Jewel at the bottom of the page. We wish Jewel all the best in her pursuit of culinary happy-ness and expertise! If you have any potential candidates who might be suitable for this blog section, please also leave your suggestions with us via your comments! Thank you and have a good blazing summer ahead! :)