As the culinary world progresses in the modern day, more and more of us are really starting to experience and appreciate the tastes of the world. Though age-old recipes and family traditions are widely loved and highly respected – it doesn’t alter the fact that change is constantly ever moving and evolving. Such a change is evoked from German-born Chef Benjamin Halat, whose passion and natural talent propelled him through the high ranks of the culinary world, from Germany to Switzerland to Malaysia – and now at Resort World Sentosa’s CURATE in Singapore, where he dishes out unique fusion dishes with contemporary flavours hailing from all around the world.
How did your passion for food and cooking begin?
I started very early to work in the kitchen, when I was 10 years old! I worked during my school holidays in our family friend’s restaurant. I peeled potatoes and onions and also helped to wash dishes. My horizons were further broadened when I had an opportunity to have a short one-week stint in one of the Michelin Star Restaurants located at Hotel Königshof Munich in Germany. At that time, I had no clue about Michelin Stars but I saw for the first time in my life – foie gras, lobster, Turbot, caviar and more. I was fascinated by the quality, taste and presentation of the beautiful dishes created! From that experience, I decided that I want to be a chef! After this short stint, I left school and embarked on my training there at this same restaurant for three years.
What is your best creation so far?
All our creations are good, but I suggest that our guests to CURATE at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore should really try the truffled egg – Soufflated Farm Egg with Truffle Caviar and Spinach. This is a really unique dish of perfectly poached egg swathed in fluffy soufflé-like egg white and finished with a light parmesan foam – the combination of fresh and light flavours from the egg white paired with the aromatic fragrance of truffle is heavenly.
You were mentored by Chef Diethard Urbansky in Munich – briefly describe to us that experience.
He guided me much about taste and texture. I also learnt from him that everything on the plate has to make sense. Never work for the eye and just for aesthetics, but always for the taste.
Where are your top 3 destinations for good food, and why?
(1)Singapore, of course! The island state has many restaurants that meet the exacting standards of gourmands nowadays. In fact, Resorts World Sentosa has the most number of Michelin Stars – seven to be exact – in a single destination within the country.
(2) Japan- give something good to the Japanese, they will make it better – that is what chefs think about Japan.
(3) Italy – When I was a small boy, we would always visit Italy for holidays. The food there is very traditional and it just touches you. Simple to say it’s soul food!
What are the challenges you face as a chef and how do you overcome it?
Life is full of challenges and that is what makes it so interesting.
The creative field is a highly competitive world, what does it take for a chef to stand out in the culinary industry?
To have his or her own culinary philosophy.
You developed your own in-house technique of using kombu seaweed to dry-age beef. Is the end product of the dry-aged beef the same as after using the conventional air ventilation method?
This unique in-house technique is even better because we retain much more of the essence and concentrated juices in the poultry by using kombu seaweed to dry-age beef as compared to the conventional air ventilation method. Flavour becomes more intense because of the natural umami.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learnt as a chef?
Always keep an open mind and one can, therefore, learn something new every day. Stay humble too!
In your opinion, what is the most important element of cooking?
Do you prefer tradition or innovation when it comes to crafting a dish?
The mix of both! That’s why I call my cuisine classic modern.
To find out more about CURATE, click here.
Images provided by Resorts World Sentosa Singapore.