How do chefs get through the long hours of physical labour in the kitchen? Singapore's culinary minds reveal their food and fitness hacks.
The chef: Mok Kit Keung of Shang Palace Singapore, one of the pre-eminent Cantonese restaurants in town. Mok previously headed the Shang Palace in Hong Kong to two Michelin stars.
The fuel: For a chef so used to preparing elaborate Cantonese cuisine fit for a palace, Mok’s diet is exceedingly simple. Breakfast is usually a long black coffee and white or oatmeal bread; while lunch sees him eating at the hotel canteen, heavy on the vegetables and fruits. For post-service, Leung usually has soup or a light meal like rice and vegetables. He also exercises regularly, cycling on his off days.
The chef: Jason Tan of Corner House, a modern French restaurant hidden away in the verdancy of the Botanic Gardens. Tan’s signature is the prized Cevennes onion, cooked four ways.
The fuel: Tan avoids starch and carbohydrates, and usually prepares his own meals — ranging from simple dishes like steamed Patagonian toothfish and chicken breast with vegetables to more extravagant dishes like grilled wagyu or beef tartare. Liquid sustenance comes in the form of lattes and Thai coconut water.
The chef: Fernando Arevalo, chef and “author” of Preludio, a contemporary fine dining spot where the concept changes every 18 months or so.
The fuel: Arevalo is a big fan of wakeboarding — making it a point to go a couple of times each month as a way to reset from the world of cooking. For food, it's scrambled eggs with different toppings and a latte every morning. Then it’s a staff meal with the team in between lunch and dinner service. This is usually some kind of local home cooked-style meal or pasta — with the occasional treats from (pastry chef) Elena's dessert experiments. After service Arevalo doesn't usually eat as there's plenty of tasting to be done during service, although he sometimes grabs a burger on his “cheat days”.
The chef: Julien Royer, chef-owner of contemporary French restaurant Odette, which recently took the no.1 spot in the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list; and holds two Michelin stars.
The fuel: The Auvergne (central France) native has a particular fondness for cheese, pau from Tanjong Rhu, and black coffee with sugar. Like many chefs though, service means that there is little time to spare for meals or even snacking — although we're sure he tastes plenty of food.
The chef: Archan Chan, the young talent behind microbrewery LeveL33's Asian-inflection modern European cuisine. Many of her minimal-waste dishes make use of by-products from the brewing process.
The fuel: Latte with regular milk. Breakfast is light – usually bread – so that she doesn't lose focus during service. After service, it's usually food that's "simple and comforting" like rice with something liquid like a soup, stew, or braise as a way to "rehydrate after service". Working in a microbrewery also means that a lot of spent grains — which are full of "nutrition like fibre, protein and ferulic acids" — figure in her diet.
The chef: Kenjiro “Hatch” Hashida of his eponymous Japanese restaurant. The restaurant is a mainstay in Singapore’s dining scene, and is perhaps best known for its inventive, luxurious omakase menu.
The fuel: Hatch usually starts his day with black coffee and a simple, low-carb breakfast like an omelette with mushrooms. Lunch is usually a staff meal that can be local or Japanese food prepared by his kitchen team. What keeps him going though, are the liquids: miso soup, coffee, sake, and the occasional energy drink. Exercise is also a big part of the chef's regime.
The chef: Han Li Guang, chef-owner of locavore fine-dining restaurant Labyrinth; which he uses as a platform to champion local produce and cuisine.
The fuel: Explaining how he has so much energy, Han eats "just about everything"; although he professes a fondness for bak chor mee (he likes the one at Tai Wah at Hong Lim Market) and curry rice.
The chef: Dave Pynt, chef-owner of the ultra-trendy Australian barbecue joint Burnt Ends. Sister brands include the American barbecue-focused Meatsmith and a hawker stall at Makansutra Gluttons Bay.
The fuel: It’s almost a given but Pynt powers his day with coffee — a double shot latte with one sugar. Usually eating before service, Pynt fills up on fruit (he's fond of tropical and stone fruits), cheese on toast, and the grilled chicken wings you find at hawker centres.