Tell us more about the experiences that you’ve had in and around the kitchen at the young age of 15. What was the moment that set your path towards becoming a chef?
Since I was little, my family and I would often go out and forage for mushrooms in the forests, look for sea vegetables by the coastline, and purchase eggs and other vegetables from the farm down the road. I’ve always been surrounded by the “farm to fork” mentality and consumed only what was locally available.
The idea of becoming a chef grew on me when I took on a job as a washer at a local restaurant at the age of 13. After some time, I was asked to help out with the prepping of the dishes and soon enough, I was working three days a week to assist with all the preparation work. Whether it was pastry, vegetables, or meat, there was always something new for me to see and learn. I found myself enjoying the work that I was doing and decided to join the kitchen team full-time after I graduated and thus began my training to become a chef.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”full_width_background” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″]
I’ve always held a great respect for Michel and Albert Roux—the chefs that really started gastronomy in the UK with their continued dedication and work in the industry since the 1960’s.
Can you tell us how you came to be involved in Kilo Cooking Beats—Raices?
I’ve been living in Singapore for four years now and during this time, I got acquainted with Kilo Kitchen and the guys (co-founders of Kilo, Javier Perez and Joshua Adjodha) behind it. I really like what they do and they asked if I would be interested, so here I am.
Can you talk us through your menu for Kilo Cooking Beats—Raices? What’s one dish that you’re particularly excited about?
My menu for the session is based on my experiences and family meal times as a kid growing up in Norfolk. Back then, we would always buy some dips and spreads, smoked mackerel pâté and cod’s roe dip whenever we went to the beach. So that’s what my first dish, Taramasalata and Squid Ink Tortilla, will be inspired by.
The next dish on the menu, Crispy Eggs, holds a lot of memories for me as I used to walk to the farm just to purchase fresh eggs for breakfast.
The Smoked Salmon Tartar dish reminds me of the time when we would go and pick samphire at Stiffkey in the north of Norfolk. We used to camp in the area to buy smoked salmon from a local smokehouse and we’d have it with samphire and a little bit of lemon for dinner.
Also on the menu for the evening is Mushroom Casserole and Toast. This dish was taught to me by my father who used to make them whenever we had a big haul of mushrooms.
For the fifth item, the lamb shoulder plays an important role and has always been a summer favourite of mine—slow cooked on the grill and served with a side of vegetable salad. It’s something that we had when friends or family came over.
To end off the night, I’ll be serving up Cherry Pie with Vanilla Ice-cream. We used to have a cherry tree in our garden, so every summer I would climb it and eat all the cherries that I could reach. Cherries are my favourite fruit so naturally, I’m quite excited about this.[/vc_column_text]
My earliest memory of food is from Sunday lunches at my grandmother’s: beef stew with dumplings and crème caramel for dessert.
Can you describe a typical dish from your childhood?
That would have to be a good old Sunday roast with roast pork belly, roast potatoes, cheesy leeks and Yorkshire puddings.
How has your move from Europe to Singapore influenced the way that you cook?
Moving out to Singapore has definitely made me more open-minded. I’ll try different techniques and ingredients from all over Asia and incorporate them into my menus. I feel that it’s only natural as we’re living in Asia and often use what’s around us.
What’s your signature dish to cook, or something you always make when you have guests over?
I like to keep things simple, so that I can enjoy the time with my guests and friends. I guess it’ll have to be either a Beef Ragù Pasta or Onion Risotto.
What’s something you would tell people to do/see when they first visit your hometown in Norwich, England? Any food recommendations?
You’ll have to head straight out to the north Norfolk coast and just explore the coastline, it’s really beautiful. For food, I would go to Cookies Crab Shop at Salthouse, take a bottle of wine, sit on picnic benches and enjoy the view while feasting on some local seafood.
What are you working on at the moment?
We’ve got a couple of pop-ups in Europe coming up, and after that we’ll just be focusing on Maggie Joan’s.
If you could invite someone, whether living or dead, from your hometown to dine with you, who would it be?
It would have to be my parents.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Take a look at Oliver’ menu for the night below, and make a reservation at www.kilokitchen.com/reservations.[/vc_column_text]