Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chef in Black: Emmanuel Stroobant

Chefs are cool! I idolize them much like a groupie would idolize a rock star. I have a deep respect for the work that they do…the skills they possess and the techniques they use. Which is why it is especially exciting when I get to meet celebrity chefs famed for their work worldwide…just two months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the infamous Bobby Chinn and yesterday I got to meet the sexy Belgian Chef in Black…Emmanuel Stroobant.

As 7atenine’s consultant chef he was here in KL launching his new menu, doing a cooking demo for the media, and then letting us have a taste of the new and interesting concoctions. I was game for that! Especially the tasting part…

As I went to take a seat at the table to interview him he got up and pulled the chair out for me…*swoon*…a gentleman indeed!

I had read somewhere that one of the chefs Emmanuel has drawn inspiration from is Ferran Adria of El Bulli in Spain and so I just could not resist asking him about his view of Molecular Gastronomy…

(Answers to the questions below are to be read with a sexy French accent)

ES: Molecular Gastronomy? Uh well…do we have a few hours to talk? *laughs* Ok I’ll just keep it simple…I believe that it is very fun to look at and understand what is happening when you cook. Last time when the chef said cook it this way you just cooked it that way…and you would tell others to cook it that way too…but no one really knew why and no questions were asked. So molecular gastronomy has made people ask questions…understand why it happens.

Emmanuel even compared food presentation to sex…or women and dating to be more precise…

ES: Pretty food is like a pretty girl…when you see a pretty girl walking down the street you don’t know anything about her…you don’t know if she is smart or funny or nice…but she is pretty and so you are attracted to her. This is the same with a dish…it has to look pretty.

When asked about the new trend of eating organic food he responded…

ES: You’re talking to someone who does yoga everyday so I definitely believe in eating organic food. I would like to go more into organic food when I cook…but there is organic and certified organic. Certified organic food is hard to find but there is a big difference with taste.

Once the interview was over we got to watch the Chef in Black in action with his assistant consultant chef Antoine Maillet (Yet another good looking guy…7atenine really isn’t struggling when it comes to eye candy…hehe…).

Emmanuel is telling a tale of the time that Antoine accidentely left the top off of a blender when he did a demo for the audience...poor Antoine...
He shows the audience what a good fois gras looks like still packaged and uncooked and explains how to prepare it
Spooning a bit of butter into the pan and heating it just till it begins to brown and is ready for the fois gras
Emmanuel is very expressive as Antoine is making sure the tempura battered fois gras cooks nicely
The two chefs with the finished dishes... after seeing the cooking demo I am more than ready to start trying out some of Emmanuel's creations!

Since Monday night at 7atenine is Martini Night we are offered a whole list of martinis to choose from before the food is served. I initially order the signature lychee martini and I'm also told I should try the apple martini...so I figure why not and go for both!

Both the martinis are refreshing...the lychee is a bit sweeter and the apple more tart...I also take a sip of a cucumber martini that has been left on the table for us to all try...I must say that the cucumber might be my favourite! It is very light and cooling...not overly sweet.

Little tasting platters are brought around and I try the Laksa Croquette...which is a typical potato croquette injected with a laksa liquid...this is unexpected as I take a bite and the liquid bursts through. Sweet, sour, and spicy flavours all at once.

Next I try the Wasabi Cod which is a garlic scented black cod brandade croquette with a wasabi cream dip. I love the presentation of this...it looks like a toy instead of something to eat!

The organic beef sashimi is just beautiful...thin slices of beef are served with shavings of pecorino cheese and spashed with olive oil marinated with spanish onions and pasilia chilli powder. The beef is so tender it falls apart as I try to dig in with my chopsticks. The other flavours do not over power the meat which is perfect as this meat should be highlighted in all its glory.
The escargots bourguignons are beautifully presented...the escargot is oven baked sitting in a white button mushroom cap with a chilli garlic herb butter. This is a different take on the typical escargot with garlic butter and I enjoy the spicy punch! Being half French I've always had a love affair with escargots...
On the left is Japanese crab meat with a herb dressing topped with an avocado and on the right is the signature 789 chilli con carne. The crab and avocado dish is very creamy and is great to have right before the flavour packed chilli con carne which has been braised for 36hours. I am officially in LOVE with the chilli...the spices are prominent and it packs heat...chilli con carne is one of my favourite dishes but I have been disappointed with it in Asia...it doesn't taste quite right...not even in the Mexican restaurants. I now know where I'll be anytime I get that spicy beany meaty craving!!

There were many other dishes that I unfortunately did not get to sample...and one dish that I did taste but don't have a photo of...this was the grilled prawn and longan skewer...this is sweet and very hot(in a mouth tingling sort of way) at the same time...the longan caramelizes beautifully and enhances the sweetness of the prawn. I'm quite upset that the photo of this dish did not turn out as the taste was a beautiful symphony upon my tongue.

All in all this was the perfect way to spend a Monday evening and I happily stumbled home on my martini and celebrity chef high.

7atenine
Ascott No.9 Jalan Pinang
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03.2161 7789

16 comments:

Nilam said...

Wow! You lucky girl. That was a nice read. Keep it up. I like your way of writing. xo

Big Boys Oven said...

wow! we were there too! yes it was fantastic!

Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

Nilam - Hee hee yeah I was happy to be there! Thanks :)

BBO - Ohh really? Wish I would have known! The food and martinis were wonderful :)

email2me said...

I was there too .... are you the Malay gal that sitting next to the stage on the right?

Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

email2me - haha no...check out my about me section and you'll see my pic...I was the one with the tied up hair...sitting near the stage as well...white tank top...red knitted sweater and jeans...

Anita said...

How lucky are you?! Great show and fantastic food - who could want anything more? :)

Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

Anita - It truly was the perfect evening :)

email2me said...

Ic ..... You didn't take pix with Emmanuel? We were having autograph session and pix taking with him 1 on 1. He was so cool and friendly. :D

Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

email2me - No I didn't take a pic with him...just talked to him...hehe...he is a very friendly guy!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

He looks like he works in the fashion industry! The wasabi cod presentation is wonderful. Lucky you! :)

burpandslurp said...

that laksa croquette have left my eyes BOIIING out of their sockets. oh my freaking god!
I love cool chefs like that who break the stereotype that cooks have to be fat and bald and sweaty. hee hee! they can be so cool!

ck lam said...

I was there too with Big Boys Oven and email2me. It was indeed a wonderful evening.

You did a very nice write-up!

Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

Lorraine - That's so true! The wasabi cod presentation was a lot of fun :)

BurpandSlurp - I sooo agree! Oh and that laksa croquette was very nice...I'm going to try tomake something like it.

CK - Thanks! Too bad I didn't know you guys were all there.

rainbow said...

you are so lucky!

Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

Rainbow - I do thank my lucky stars each day that I have a job I adore :)

email2me said...

Today when I about to post about ES, I saw one of the pix showing you like wanna fall asleep while having 1 on 1 interview with ES. :P