What Chefs’ Mums and Grandmas Used to Cook for Them
In Singapore’s vibrant dining scene, Emmanuel Stroobant, Luca Piras and Marco Guccio reign in their cuisines. With all the success that they have achieved in their long and illustrious careers, they credit their mums and grandmothers who inspired them to become chefs. With fond childhood memories of cooking in the kitchen, they share with us some of their favourite dishes.
Photo credit: Emmanuel Stroobant's Facebook page
Chef-owner, Saint Pierre
“My earliest childhood memory of my grandma’s cooking was from when I was about five years old — she made her amazing flourless chocolate cake. This cake would surface at all of our family’s celebratory occasions; and often on Sundays, which was family time, because the café business would be closed on that day.
My grandma’s flourless chocolate cake presented itself at every family get-together and celebrations. When I set up my first restaurant, Le Bal in Belgium (Liege) at the age of 23 years old. Being a savoury chef, I did not have any dessert recipes. I asked my grandma for her recipe but she did not want to give it to me. Instead she would take the bus daily over a distance of 30km from her home to my restaurant to deliver her baked-daily chocolate cakes.
Eventually when I left Belgium to venture overseas, I told her she cannot be taking the plane to deliver the cakes to me. It was then that she finally shared her recipe with me.”
Chef’s Recipe: Flourless Chocolate Cake
Head chef, Zafferano
“My mum and grandma would often cook pasta for me when I was young. All the pastas were made from scratch. It was a collaborative effort that resulted in many delicious dishes. My favourite: Fileja alla Calabrese.
This is the pasta dish that my family always prepares together on the first and last dinner of my holiday in Milan. Making the pasta is a ritual that involves the whole family. We all have a role to play: My grandma measures the flour using her two palms and makes the dough, I shape the pasta with a dry wheat stick to make its screw shape. My mum makes the fresh tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes and basil picked from our garden, and my grandpa does the ‘quality-control’ to ensure the shape of the pasta is right.
The ritual and recipe has been passed down for generations, from before my grandmother, and now to me. Though I left home about 15 years ago, this ritual still continues and takes place more than once each trip.”
Chef’s Recipe: Fileja alla Calabrese
Chef de Cuisine, ALBA 1836
“As a child, I remember my mother waking up in the early hours of the morning to start preparing food for the family. She would make sure to accommodate everyone’s favourite dish even if it meant hours of preparation. Every day, my mother visited the market (Mercato di San Benedetto) to ensure only the freshest of ingredients would be chosen for her chosen recipes. Whenever possible, I would go with her and marvel at all the produce and the beautiful aromas.
For our family meals, it wasn’t complete without pasta. My mother would prepare homemade pasta every single day. A speciality would be typical Sardinian ravioli, known as ‘Culurgiones’ which is fresh pasta stuffed with potatoes, pecorino and mint. It is a recipe that is a little tricky to make and requires a great deal of patience and skill for the stitching part.”
Chef’s Recipe: Sardinian Culurgiones with Bottarga