Chris Woo shows you how to make the most of being a host.
<b>PHOTOGRAPHY</b> VERNON WONG
<b>ART DIRECTION</b> JEAN YAP
Anyone who has successfully prepared a meal that involved more than one utensil, three ingredients, and an actual ﬂame might fancy themselves handy in the kitchen. But, unless people have been willing to pay for your little hobby, you’re likely not at the level of Chris Woo.
With no formal training, Woo picked up his culinary skills from his mother, cookbooks, TV chefs and years of experimenting. By the time he was in boarding school in the UK, he prepared an eight-course meal for his best friend’s parents which included Peking duck, sesame pancakes, sweet and sour pork and ﬁsh. It was the ﬁrst time he was paid to cook.
These days he’s paid to be the tax leader of PwC Singapore, but he still ﬁnds time to host his friends and close clients at least once or twice a month. One of these friends is chef Valentino Valtulina of Ristorante Da Valentino, who once had to have double helpings of Woo’s creamy parmesan risotto.
He’s had plenty of experience with Chinese, Italian, Southern French and, more recently, British cuisine, so trust him when he says shortcuts should never be taken. “Good quality ingredients are key so don’t compromise. If you enjoy certain ingredients, there’s no harm in being more generous with them. Recipes are just for guidance so never be afraid to innovate,” he advises.
If you’re short on time, go for pasta. “They’re very quick and easy, but make sure they’re cooked al dente. After that, the key is which sauce to go with it. You can make a big impact if you have good tomatoes, nice thick cream, or even preserved meats like bacon or sausage. And never hesitate to go nuts with quality olive oil,” he adds.
“As a starter, foie gras is dead easy and always impressive. Just make sure you don’t overcook it and lose the fat,” he says. As a ﬁnal tip, a good host should always provide “loads of excellent champagne and wine. It helps to wash all the food down and adds to the merriment”.
THE SHUCK FACTOR
Markus Dybwad, general manager and executive chef of Fisk Seafoodbar & Market, shares his expertise on assembling a seafood bar at home.
ICE ICE BABY
Keep both crushed ice and ice blocks on hand. The former is cheap and easily available, while the latter looks beautiful on display. Start by building your seafood bar on a drip tray to prolong your presentation, before incorporating elements such as wood and granite for texture.
To ensure your guests enjoy fresh and top-notch seafood, make sure your offerings are consumed within three hours indoors and an hour outdoors. Keep your raw food chilled for as long as possible, and only shuck your oysters and shellfish a la minute.
LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS
If you would rather outsource the menu curation, Fisk can propose seafood selections according to your budget and preferences. For a cosy party of 10, the set includes its signature house-smoked salmon, oysters, assorted sashimi and smorrebrod sandwiches.