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[Exclusive] A day behind-the-scenes with chef Ivan Brehm

Did you know that the temperature of the restaurant's doorknobs is tweaked for patrons' comfort?

Update: We’ve just received word that chef Ivan Brehm will handing over the reins of The Kitchen at Bacchanalia to another. All the best in your next endeavours, chef!

Ivan Brehm sees value in everything. The executive head chef of The Kitchen at Bacchanalia has been guided by this motto since his four-year training stint under British chef Heston Blumenthal, a culinary genius well known for his experimental ways. Brehm learnt from Blumenthal that small details, like a doorknob’s temperature, matter. “You can impact a guest’s experience massively before he even tries your food,” says the 32-year-old. “People think it’s a gimmick, but these things all come together, whether the person knows it or not.”

  • 8.00 AM: YOGA, BREAKFAST & PLAYING WITH CATS

    As the sun slowly rises in the sky, Brehm starts his morning with some restorative yoga. Together with his wife, a certified yoga instructor, they stretch and dip into poses like the Cobra and Warrior that are designed to awaken “qi”. “It gives me some quiet meditative time, and helps with building my patience as well,” says Brehm.

    Breakfast is usually a bowl of fresh berries with a side of toast. On days he needs an extra boost, Brehm digs into some kimchi, too. It’s simple fare, but Brehm lingers over this morning ritual, taking some time to prepare his fruit and coffee. “I like the Ethiopian blend from Jewel Coffee as it is fruitier and works better for filter brews,” he says.

    Then, it’s some quick playtime with his two cats, before he showers and changes. As Brehm is constantly on the go, he needs a hardy and roomy bag like the Bottega Veneta Duffel Bag, so he can stash heavy-duty items like a laptop.

Although he once thought of becoming a lawyer, Brehm’s first experience working in the kitchen of a fine-dining Turkish restaurant in his native country of Brazil cemented his love of cooking at age 18. Since then, he has worked under Thomas Keller at Per Se and David Shea at Applewood in New York City, as well as at other top-notch restaurants in Europe, including The Fat Duck in Bray, England.

In 2013, Brehm moved to Singapore to head Bacchanalia. He might have been hyped up as Blumenthal’s prodigy, but Brehm was quick to prove that he lives in nobody’s shadow. Together with chef de cuisine Mark Ebbels, the two turned fine dining on its head by adding fun touches to their food. Norwegian hand-dived scallops, for instance, were dusted with cocoa and served on their shell. The restaurant, then located in Coleman Street, won Best Restaurant of the Year (Western) in the G Restaurant Awards 2014. Though Bacchanalia’s former interiors of dark wood and sumptuous red velvet seats have been swopped for contemporary Scandinavian blond wood and an open kitchen concept in its new Hong Kong Street location, Brehm’s passion for crafting creative modern European dishes remains unchanged.

(RELATED: The Diary of Lawyer turned chef-restaurateur Willin Low: Behind-the-scenes at Wild Rocket.)

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