A Vision of Michelin Three-Star Dining After the Pandemic

Joanna Ossinger wrote . . . . . . . . .

Sebastien Lepinoy’s restaurant will survive the era of COVID-19. He just isn’t yet sure what that will mean.

The chef of Les Amis, one of Singapore’s two three-star Michelin restaurants, is planning to reopen once Singapore’s Covid-19 prevention measures ease. About 75% of his diners are locals anyway, he said, so he isn’t as worried as a place might be that relies more heavily on tourists.

“If my Singaporean customer comes and sits with me it should be great, even if the tourists aren’t yet here,” he said in an interview. “I will survive, no need to cut salaries, no need to do a smaller theme, I will run almost like I used to do before.”

After more than two decades of serving fine French food to Singapore’s elite, the restaurant won’t be quick to make big changes. Head chef since 2013, he wants to see how behaviors shift—or stay the same—and plans to wait about three months before figuring out how to adapt.

“At the reopening people will be happy, but that doesn’t mean they want to go to fine dining and spend a lot of money. We don’t know yet,” he said. “Perhaps they will go and enjoy but perhaps also they will say ‘maybe we wait a few months’ for fine dining because our salaries were cut this year, our budget is not like before.”

Lepinoy said he’s also working on how to deal with COVID-19 protocols in a way that will be effective but as unintrusive as possible for customers, noting he’s talking to an Israeli company about thermal devices that can take temperatures. He’s also thinking about how to deal with things like the registration process with identification and phone number that may be needed to reopen, with a clientele that’s used to discretion.

The restaurant came in at number 11 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2020 and won the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award. It’s known for dishes like La Noix De Saint-Jacques, which is slow roasted scallop served with condiments and sauce coraline, and La Pomme De Terre Roseval Au Caviar—caviar served on petals of roseval potatoes with condiments and fresh herbs.

Before the pandemic, the six-course tasting menu was SG$460 ($325) per person. A Les Amis customer would have discovered, upon walking into the restaurant, a fine interior of wood and marble, with an occasional touch of a painting or flowers, and chandeliers and white table settings. There’s the bread cart, a la carte selections in addition to the tasting menus, and a fantastic cheese tray. And then there’s the extensive selection of Champagnes, whiskies and other beverages. The wine list has more than 3,000 offerings, with about 85% from France, mainly Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Les Amis itself is known for top-quality French dining—but it’s also part of the larger Les Amis Group that operates in five countries, with 26 outlets in Singapore alone, according to its website. The group’s restaurants include everything from Namnam Noodle Bars in Indonesia to House of Singapura in Yangon, Myanmar, and Singapore’s Indigo Blue Kitchen—with “more expansion plans in the pipeline,” according to its website.

While Les Amis is closed during the circuit breaker implemented by the Singapore government, it’s still offering take-away and delivery meals like Cold Angel Hair with Caviar, cold angel hair pasta with kombu, caviar and black truffle, along with selections like roast chicken, lamb shoulder, borscht, French onion soup and a Mara des Bois strawberry tart.

“When you go in the restaurant, we must remember, people come also for the service. And when you have takeaway, you have no service,” Lepinoy said. “At the moment you deliver to a home, you don’t know how long after they will eat, you don’t know how the quality will be, if it is cold, you cannot control it.”

He seems to have managed those variables, though, considering the circumstances. A recent delivery from the restaurant arrived in labeled, burgundy bags presented by a polite man in a crisp suit and tie. The details had all been worked out—the packaging was purposeful, with windows in some of the carriers to see the food inside. A few simple instructions helped with the dishes that needed a bit of home preparation.

One thing Les Amis won’t do when it reopens: sacrifice quality for quantity. It’s a lesson Lepinoy says he learned while working under the legendary Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong in 2008, and was asked by the restaurant’s management to do a less expensive meal, a kind of bento box for the French eatery. Even though they were paying less, customers still had the same high expectations for the quality of the food, and many complained, he said.

“It was the worst mistake,” he said. “For the first one or two months it was good because we got more customers but we didn’t do any profit because we just tried to fill up the restaurant” — and its reputation was affected in the long term, he said.

Source: BLoomberg

Spanish Omelette

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large white onions, thinly sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 roasted Piquillo peppers, roughly chopped
6 eggs
sea salt and black pepper, to season
green salad, to serve

Method

  1. Heat half the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan/skillet, add the onions and potatoes and toss to coat. Season well and add the Piquillo peppers. Turn down the heat and cover with a lid. Cook until the potatoes and onions are soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Turn regularly to prevent too much browning. Once they are softened, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Lightly whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl and add the onions and potatoes (they should still be hot so that the cooking process of the eggs begins as soon as they are mixed together). Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and return to medium heat. Pour the egg mixture into the hot pan – it should fill it by about two-thirds. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and cook for 20-25 minutes until there is very little liquid on the surface.
  4. Take a plate that is slightly larger than the frying pan/skillet and place it upside down over the pan. Invert the plate and pan, tipping the tortilla out onto the plate.
  5. Put the pan back on the heat and gently slide the tortilla back into it. The cooked side is now facing upward and the uncooked side will now be on the heat. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and let settle. (If you don’t feel up to flipping the tortilla over, you can grill/broil the top for 2-3 minutes under medium heat to finish off.)
  7. Turn the tortilla out onto a clean plate and slice to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: 100 ways with eggs

In Pictures: Food Prepared with Hot Cakes Mix by Home Cooks

Walking or Cycling to Work Associated with Reduced Risk of Early Death

Kate Wighton wrote . . . . . . . . .

People who walk, cycle and travel by train to work are at reduced risk of early death or illness compared with those who commute by car.

These are the findings of a study of over 300,000 commuters in England and Wales, by researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge.

The researchers say the findings suggest increased walking and cycling post-lockdown may reduce deaths from heart disease and cancer.

The study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, used Census data to track the same people for up to 25 years, between 1991-2016.

It found that, compared with those who drove, those who cycled to work had a 20 per cent reduced rate of early death, 24 per cent reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease (which includes heart attack and stroke) during the study period, a 16 per cent reduced rate of death from cancer, and an 11 per cent reduced rate of a cancer diagnosis.

Walking to work was associated with a 7 per cent reduced rate in cancer diagnosis, compared to driving. The team explain that associations between walking and other outcomes, such as rates of death from cancer and heart disease, were less certain. One potential reason for this is people who walk to work are, on average, in less affluent occupations than people who drive to work, and more likely to have underlying health conditions which could not be fully accounted for.

Men more likely to cycle

The paper also revealed that compared with those who drove to work, rail commuters had a 10 per cent reduced rate of early death, a 20 per cent reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 12 per cent reduced rate of cancer diagnosis. This is likely due to them walking or cycling to transit points, although rail commuters also tend to be more affluent and less likely to have other underlying conditions, say the team.

Dr Richard Patterson from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge who led the research said: “As large numbers of people begin to return to work as the COVID-19 lockdown eases, it is a good time for everyone to rethink their transport choices. With severe and prolonged limits in public transport capacity likely, switching to private car use would be disastrous for our health and the environment. Encouraging more people to walk and cycle will help limit the longer-term consequences of the pandemic.”

The study also assessed whether the benefits of each mode of travel differed between occupational groups and found that potential health benefits were similar across these groups.

The team used data from the UK Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study of England and Wales, a dataset that links data from several sources including the Census of England and Wales, and registrations of death and cancer diagnoses.

The data revealed overall 66 per cent of people drove to work, 19 per cent used public transport, 12 per cent walked, and 3 per cent cycled. Men were more likely than women to drive or cycle to work, but were less likely to use public transport or walk.

Dr Anthony Laverty, senior author from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London explained: “It’s great to see that the government is providing additional investment to encourage more walking and cycling during the post-lockdown period. While not everyone is able to walk or cycle to work, the government can support people to ensure that beneficial shifts in travel behaviour are sustained in the longer term. Additional benefits include better air quality which has improved during lockdown and reduced carbon emissions which is crucial to address the climate emergency.”

The team add that the benefits of cycling and walking are well-documented, but use of Census data in this new study allowed large numbers of people to be followed up for a longer time. They explain that these analyses were unable to account for differences in participants’ dietary intakes, smoking, other physical activity or underlying health conditions. However, they add these findings are compatible with evidence from other studies.

Source: Imperial College London

Study: For Tasty Tomatoes, Either the Fridge or the Counter is OK

How you store your tomatoes doesn’t affect the flavor — what really matters is the type of tomato you choose, researchers say.

A team from the University of Göttingen in Germany investigated the differences in flavor of ripe, picked tomatoes when stored in the refrigerator (44.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and at room temperature (68 degrees F).

A panel of experienced taste-testers who judged the sweetness, acidity and juiciness of the tomatoes found no significant differences between those kept in the fridge and those stored at room temperature.

The variety of tomato played a far bigger part in flavor than storage methods, according to the researchers. The study focused on two varieties of black cherry tomatoes.

“It is the variety of tomato in particular that has an important influence on the flavor. Therefore, the development of new varieties with an appealing flavor can be a step towards improving the flavor quality of tomatoes,” lead author Larissa Kanski said in a university news release. She is a doctoral student in the Division of Quality Plant Products.

Study co-author Elke Pawelzik said freshness is a key to flavor but short-term storage won’t hurt.

“The shorter the storage period, the better it is for the flavor and related attributes,” said Pawelzik, head of the Division of Quality Plant Products. “However, we were able to show that, taking into account the entire post-harvest chain, short-term storage of ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator did not affect the flavor.”

Their findings were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

Source: HealthDay


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