CELEBRATING CON-FUSION

Fusion has become a dirty word in the modern world, a sign of the unstoppable forces of globalisation and cheap flights that allow anyone to experience the foreign, then to hastily combine it with another disparate element and expect the sum to be greater than the parts. This is Frankenstein fusion designed to generate fast reactions and even faster money. But when carefully carried out with a deep respect for the original, it’s possible to achieve something that is at the same time new and exciting, while also being authentic to one’s own life experience.

The journey of creating a dish varies by chef. For some, it starts at the desk staring at excel sheets filled with ingredients, others in the lab in a white coat, some dream them up over an empty cocktail glass.

My dishes start somewhere between getting my passport stamped, throwing myself into the wild deliciousness of the new, and unpacking a spice-laden suitcase, my mouth still tingling at memories no filter could ever enhance.

I taught myself how to cook not from a technical handbook, but by living the experience. Watching an old man in Amman, Jordan squeeze an acidic hit of lemon into his creamy hummus, inhaling the intoxicating aromas of butter and curry that sizzled as they were slathered over charred roti in Singapore, stood back in awe as Al Pastor tacos were filled at breakneck speed with juicy pork, pineapple and a zingy salsa verde, and bowed my head in solemn silence in the Shin Juku-Juku train station as the bandana wearing sushi chef sliced away at creamy fillet of tuna with a gentle precision that seemed comical given the Samurai-like knife he wielded.

These were the memories that stayed with me long after the jet-lag had passed and I was back in my own kitchen. I relied on them to guide me as I cooked with a nervous ambition to maintain the magic of the people and places I encountered during my adventures, while staying true to my own version of taste.

I began to mix cardamom into my coffee, hang muslin cloths full of yogurt over my sink until only labneh cheese remained, ripened a constant supply of guacamole-ready avocados, sliced sweet zingy green chillies over pasta, and spent whole days grinding spices for yellow curry pastes, red hot harissa, and a bright green chimichurri deserving of only an Argentinian cut of meat.

With no formal cooking training, I had the naive luxury of being able to hack together flavour combinations that no curriculum would have allowed. I spent nights in the kitchen starting with an authentic dish then experimenting with a palette full of flavours And as my cooking style developed, I found myself always struggling to answer one basic question, ‘So, what kind of food do you cook?’ and I always fumbled a response.

Every day it becomes clearer exactly what I’m putting on the table. My food is rough, creative and naturally messy. I aim to celebrate simple food cooked with passion and flavoured with creativity from around the world. It’s food that is comforting, nourishing & familiar but at the same time exciting and new. I cook with punch & flair, combining fresh flavours with exotic tastes and the good life.

Having lived a life of fusion, I’m not aiming to recreate the authentic dishes I’ve tasted around the world, and don’t count on me for the technical prowess of a trained chef. My role in the kitchen is to instead take those memories and flavours and apply them to amazing local produce cooked with simple techniques, artistic flair and playful presentation.

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