Luxury dining establishments can no longer rely on a stand-out, signature dish to create a memorable experien ce for their diners. Like a collection of haute fashion, every aspect of luxury dining needs to be curated; carefully created with seemingly imperceptible details that, when brought together with excellent ingredients, fine cooking techniques and intuitively personalised service, will deliver a truly holistic luxury dining experience.
On 24 October 2018, a selection of InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts’ finest and rising culinary talent from around the region gathered at Publico Ristorante, InterContinental Robertson Quay, where – through a multi-sensory showcase of tastings and commentary – they explored the intricacies of the luxury dining experience and delved into some of the industry’s biggest trends.
Clarence Tan, Managing Director for South East Asia and Korea, InterContinental Hotels Group said, “We know that for our guests, luxury is a mindset, a way of experiencing life. It always comes back to attention to detail and customised experiences.
“At InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, we know that to provide exceptional experiences for guests who enjoy living the InterContinental Life, we must holistically invest in the creation of this. Our dedication is shown through our specially designed restaurants and bars which cater not only to our guests, but residents and neighbours looking for luxury dining options nearby, whilst remaining committed to our role as an incubator of fine dining specialists, seeking out and nurturing only the very best talent with the craft, passion and commitment to deliver on and help bring to life those guest expectations.
“Today we’ve gathered some of our brightest and most talented chefs and talent who showcased how they and their teams bring exceptional luxury dining experience to life for our InterContinental Hotels & Resorts guests every day.”
The Craft and Sophistication of Curating Luxurious Dining Experiences
Luxury dining is a multisensory experience that takes one through a journey of enjoyment, from the harmonious surroundings and the exquisite tastes on one’s palate, to the satisfaction that lingers long after the meal.
Marika Nikolaidis, Restaurant and Bar Curator at Publico Ristorante, InterContinental Robertson Quay says, “While they may appear insignificant, subtle nuances and seemingly small details like the texture of cut crystal glasses, the weight of fine silver cutlery or the sleek marble of a bar — once combined with extraordinary culinary creations — play a very important role in elevating luxury dining and creating a truly sophisticated experience for diners.”
Executive Chef Eric Neo, who oversees all restaurants at InterContinental Singapore, including Ash & Elm and Man Fu Yuan, while holding role of Vice President of the Chef’s Association in Singapore, shared why texture is so important in any culinary journey: “Our mouth actually has the largest number of receptors in the whole body, picking up temperature, pain – such as the sharpness of horseradish – and even astringency, such as unripe fruit or a young wine. Mouthfeel combines with a sensory impression of taste and smell to give us flavour, so you can see how it plays a key role in the dining experience.”
Harnessing the potential of texture in delivering an extraordinary gastronomic experience, Chef Eric presented an exquisite sample of grapes infused with champagne and nitrogen, giving the grapes an effervescent effect and creating a fizz on the tongue upon tasting.
“There are a multitude of ways to harness the power of texture and create a myriad of dimensions within a dish; this can include creations such as confit of salmon in curry oil, the surprising juxtaposition of crispy scallop mousse or simply pickled cucumber.
The Age of Aesthetics
The rise in technology — especially social media — means fine dining is no longer a private experience between you and your dining companion; it’s about sharing with your community. Since flavours can’t be shared digitally, the visual element is quintessential, now more so than ever.
Chef Sebastian Reischer, Chef de Cuisine at the award-winning Fireside Grill & Bar in InterContinental Bangkok, shared: “Aesthetics have always played a key role in the dining experience. However today, discerning diners are seeking greater opportunities to share the exceptional creations served to them in luxury dining establishments via their social media feeds, so the ways chefs craft and style their dishes are ever more important.”
Demonstrating this point, Chef Sebastian presented his ‘Trilogy of Pumpkin’ amuse bouche, a unique trio of pumpkin prepared three ways, featuring truffle and fois gras. He shared: “There is constant pressure and demand for chefs to keep reaching new aesthetic heights, so as to continually surprise and delight diners. Increasingly, guests also want dishes that trick the eye — what you see may not necessarily be what you taste.”
“One way chefs do this is by presenting everyday ingredients in new and exciting ways. A humble ingredient like pumpkin can be transformed into something so visually and texturally unique, combining the sense of familiarity with something completely brand new and unforgettable,” he continued. “Other trends right now include bold, fearless plating, playing with new colours and fresh takes on molecular cuisine.”
The Transition of Taste
No fine-dining experience is complete without an unforgettable dessert. Chef Chelsea Logan, who helms the pastry team at InterContinental Double Bay Sydney, said, “Dessert plays a defining role in rounding off the overall dining experience; it cleanses the palate and finishes the meal, especially in the context of taste.”
Collaborating with Claudio Russo, Bar Manager at Publico, InterContinental Robertson Quay, the two presented a refreshing dessert and cocktail pairing consisting of Chef Chelsea’s signature dessert, the ‘Gin & Tonic’, and Claudio Russo’s specially concocted cocktail: the ‘Gin Fusion’, which perfectly explored and partnered the delicate dessert’s citrus and herbal notes.
Commenting on the wealth of experience, passion and craft of the chefs gathered at Publico Ristorante today, Clarence Tan said, “We are entering a truly exciting time for the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts brand. It is clear from the industry experts here today that we have the culinary talent across the region to move forward with us — to keep creating exceptional, luxury experiences for our guests and diners for years to come.”