A Breath of Fresh Air As Chefs Will Goldfarb and Matthew Orlando Team Up For New Restaurant In Singapore

The sprawling farm-to-table concept will pack a restaurant, cooking school, research studio and edible garden into a 40,000 sq ft space in Dempsey Hill.
by Alvin Lim

Photo: Air

In the world of Singapore’s cut-throat culinary scene, margins are razor-thin and the room for error even less so. It’s no wonder that many budding restaurateurs turn to something tried and true, rather than inventive and experimental — which might make Air, the newest concept to land in the verdant hills of Dempsey, feel like a breath of fresh air.

The concept is part farm-to-table restaurant; part cooking school and part research lab all rolled into one sprawling 40,000 sq ft space in Dempsey Hill. Air opens on January 31, 2024.

Photo: Air

Air, which stands for Awareness, Impact, and Responsibility, points to the restaurant’s ethos, embodied and personified by the American chef duo helming the joint, Matthew Orlando and Will Goldfarb, in collaboration with Indonesian entrepreneur Ronald Akili, who co-founded hospitality brand Potato Head.

Orlando, wielding close to a decade of experience in ethical gastronomy gathered at his now-defunct Copenhagen restaurant Amass, will take the lead for the restaurant’s sustainability-forward cuisine. Goldfrab runs the famed dessert restaurant Room4Dessert in Ubud, Bali.

Orlando, who used to be the head chef at Noma, has relocated to Singapore after closing Amass in Copenhagen in 2022. The restaurant, which was regarded as a long-time proponent of sustainability and known for its Nouvelle-meets-New Nordic menu. Goldfrab will spilt his time between Singapore and Bali.

Photo: Air

The menu features hearty, produce-driven plates that highlight local ingredients sustainably sourced from Air’s on-site garden. These include crisp battered oyster mushrooms drizzled with a Sarawak pepper emulsion and slices of pickled chillies, as well as a white fish ceviche studded with young starfruit and brimming with canary nut milk.

For the mains, there’s charcoal-grilled duck breast lacquered with a sticky roselle glaze, paired with cashew cream and a smoky chilli oil — along with a touch of nose-to-tail dining as a whole coral grouper is broken down and remade into a dish with three separate components.

The fish head will be turned into a rillette and served with crisp empeng chips, while the fillet gets the confit treatment before being drizzled with a green onion, black garlic, and fish stock vinaigrette. The fish bones don’t go to waste either, as they are laboriously pressure-cooked until just yielding enough to be made into noodles when blitzed with lemongrass, chillies, and a mixture of flours.

Photo: Air

Guests will have plenty of seating options to choose from; an expansive lawn offers laid-back alfresco dining for up to 350 people in the lead-up to the main two-storey building, which seats 45 on each level.

The ground floor offers guests a peek into the open kitchen, while the second storey is adjoined by the research space, where cooking classes and talks will eventually be held.

25B Dempsey Road. aircccc.com

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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