December 8, 2015

Experiencing the SpiceOdyssey 2015 adventure

I had the chance to attend SpiceOdyssey last Friday, which I must say, was a real adventure.

SpiceOdyssey is a graduation capstone event hosted by At-Sunrice for their graduating students to showcase their culinary renditions as part of their final year project. The students were challenged to prepare their creations with a particular herb or spice serving according to a theme that best represents their culinary craft creativity.

There is a total of ten kingdoms in the SpiceOdyssey and this time, the student groups have picked 5 kingdoms: Aromatics, Intoxicants, Spiritual, Healthy & Beauty, Sex & Sensuality to whip up creations for guests to sample.

Even before we started on the two-hour journey, I got a little giddy thinking about the different types of recipe possibilities we would be savouring at the event.

I was fortunate enough to take a peek behind the scenes at the kitchens where the students prep for their creations.

As we all know, part of serving great food is presentation. Here we have the students working hard on their displays at their individual kingdoms to make sure their culinary masterpieces 'pop' visually. The above picture shows the work in progress for the kingdom of Intoxicants based on the theme 'Alice in Wonderland' and you will definitely love the presentation at the end; the transformation is beyond amazing.

Have you guys seen fruit carvings upfront before? Well I haven't! I've seen them on television and on books but coming across these fruit art displays like this, I'm blown away.

These fruits were magnificently arranged and carved for the Kingdom of Aromatics.

We can see that the students take a lot of pride in their final year project and have spent a lot effort on their presentations too.

Here is Lucie, one of the graduating students preparing floral arrangements for the Kingdom of Health & Beauty.

BF stands for BeneFood, which translates to 'better food for better life'. What a fitting catchline for Health & Beauty!

Students adding finishing touches to their creations.

Just by looking at these dishes, I know we are in for something real good.

Students getting ready for their plating. Plating is a culinary term for presentation of food on the serving plate.

David, the director of brand development gives a welcome speech to all the guests.

And so, we begin our journey through the kingdoms, starting with Intoxicants Kingdom.

The graduating students had to give a brief presentation on their dish creation and this is Nathanel addressing the crowd and introducing his dish.

I wasn't lying when I said you'll be in for a treat. This Kingdom is designed to intoxicate our senses. I absolutely loved the ambience and atmosphere of this Kingdom with imaginative elements decorated generously across the room. The only downside of this set-up is the colours that reflected in the photos, which did not do much justice to the dishes.

Chesire Cat by Melina Tan. Just the color itself is super inviting. This is one sugar sweet filling piece that I would reach for over and over again.

I don't know about you but when I first saw these, I thought they were miniature sunny-side ups! These adorable dishes turned out to be delicious pudding with a creamy puddle at the base.

Kegani Crabcake with Yuzu Koshu Salted Egg Sauce is my favourite dish in this Kingdom.
The dish is scrumptious with crispy texture to the crabcake and the sauce is a delight in it's own right.

Next up is the Sex & Sensuality Kingdom. Their theme revolves around novelty, curiosity and excitement. That thrill of first love and the delight of intimacy.

Spring. This dish is a good balance of sweet and sour. I like how it managed to evoke my senses with its slight acidic tinge.

What I thoroughly enjoyed in this Kingdom was the Aoili Prawn Ceviche with Crustacean Oil Pasta and it's a shame I didn't manage to take a photo of it. The delicious Crustacean Oil adds a different dimension to the pasta and I would have it any time of the day - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even supper.

Spiritual Kingdom, a concept of Yin & Yang and the 5 elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth.
To amp up the excitement factor, the students have prepared their dish with a particular taste to each element.
Metal: Spicy
Wood: Sour
Water: Salty
Fire: Bitter
Earth: Sweet

This is the Kingdom I have been anticipating the most since their preparation.

This piece of art is absolutely a joy to look at and to be eaten - I'm not kidding. I am impressed by the print and texture of the chocolate case, I actually thought they were just round, porcelain displays.

This Beef Rump with Spiced Chocolate and Housemade Pickles is the kick. There's varying degrees of tenderness across the meat. Very juicy and perfectly medium-rare pink.

Another dish that I really dig is the Salmon Roulade with Tom Yam. I'm a big fan of Tom Yam so normally just hearing any food associated with Tom Yam is enough to bribe me but that's not just it for this dish. The fresh salmon is loaded with tanginess and spice, and the savoury spaghetti tops it off wonderfully.

Can we bring some of these spice-centric sweets home?

These fruit carvings look magical in the Aromatics Kingdom. The objective of this Kingdom is to incorporate aromatic plants and botanicals into the students' concepts.

I am particularly fond of three dishes in this Kingdom:
- Pork Belly with Honey Glaze - Not exactly an experimental dish but I took comfort in a familiar old favourite dish updated with a zesty twist.
- Freshly Shucked Oyster with Green Apple Dashi - Damn, this was the winner of the night for me. The fresh oysters are immersed into a savoury Dashi spiked with the sweet, sweet taste of green apples. The result was seriously refreshing, with a slight tart taste.

Risotto Dumpling with Morel & Shitake Mushrooms. In Chinese, we call them 小笼包. I can have 10 of these every day. It was quite unfortunate that the dumpling skin got slightly tough by the time we had them - due to the presentation display and exposure in the air-conditioned room.

The last stop for our adventure is the Health & Beauty Kingdom.

Seen on the right is Pepperberry Sprouts, absolutely adorable with the sprouts. I loved the crumbs, they're pretty savoury and have an interesting taste, not to mention they're nutritious too.
On the left is Scallop Tartare with Lemon Curd & Whipped Cream, this dish makes a great starter. The sweetness of scallop is complemented by the subtle lemon punch.

Ma Po Tofu Mousse. An interesting take on the Sichuan Classic - Grandmother's tofu. Extremely tasty, albeit a little salty. The texture is great and there's a pronounced flavor of the lamb.

I sampled more than 25 unique dishes that night and I was very intrigued by the fact that they were prepared by culinary students when the taste and quality of some dishes could be said as on par with accomplished chefs. Kudos to all the students who have worked hard in creating their masterpieces for this graduation showcase.

At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy is one of the leading culinary schools in Singapore that was established in 2001. With more than a decade of history, the institute has cultivated many global chefs and F&B professionals, providing sensory experiences, innovation, and developing culinary passion.

At-Sunrice is an EduTrust-certified institution that offers high-quality F&B education to students who can choose from a range of nationally recognised programmes - degree, diploma, certificate, modular. The institute also prepares their students for future careers in the F&B industry with study-apprenticeship practice, maximising their employability and preparedness as global chefs in the diverse food world. If you have a passion for food-related pursuits and are interested to sign up for a course, register for a consultation session here.

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