“What can I say, this is amazing,” Sam Aisbett declared when he was invited on stage to receive the Restaurant of the Year award at The G Restaurant Awards 2017, held at Sheraton Towers on June 20. Aisbett dedicates the award to Diego Cossio, his head chef, and his superbly hardworking staff.
The 33-year-old Australian who has worked at Tetsuya’s, and last held the position of head chef at the renowned Quay restaurant in Sydney, came to Singapore in late 2015 to strike out on his own. For Aisbett, it is all about getting components to work together to enhance the produce. His flavours are clean yet intense, and dishes look deceptively simple but are extremely complex. His boundless creativity has resulted in dishes such as the starter of sliced white vereduna beetroot and Japanese yellowtail painstakingly assembled, piece-by-piece, into exquisite roses to be served with land caviar and smoked organic soya mirin dressing, and the dessert of shredded milk with honey, which is milk dried into think layers, then shredded by hand and served with Hokkaido milk jelly, milk ice cream and Thai honey. Challenging you say? That’s just the way Aisbett likes it.
We caught up with him the day after the awards ceremony for a quick chat:
Tell us how you feel after winning the Award of Excellence and the Restaurant of the Year?
My staff was so happy. We work very hard and do long hours. It is good to get some recognition. It also means that all their hard work is paying off. It’s amazing to win these awards, but it also means people now have extremely high expectations and we need to deliver. We need to keep on track and keep doing what we are doing.
The last 18 months have been crazy. I got the chance to open a restaurant in Singapore from scratch! It hasn’t been easy though – there were a lot of challenges along the way. I can’t believe what we have achieved in such a short amount of time. I still can’t believe we got awarded restaurant of the year! There are so many amazing restaurants here in Singapore and so many amazing chefs. It’s great to think we are at the same level in a short period of time. So many amazing chefs have won this award before me, I am very humbled. I’m so happy! I am over the moon! I still think we can improve a lot of things. So look out!
What do you think it is that you did at the restaurant that earned the award.
I don’t know. I think we just do what we do. We don’t sort of follow trends, and we don’t follow what other chefs are doing, we just do what we do, if we get something out of it, even better.
Moving forward, what more can we expect from you?
Oh my god, even better things at Whitegrass. We are always so creative over there.