With Covid-19 regulations limiting the size of social gatherings, it can be tough to pick a dining destination that offers a small, intimate setting, with delicious food.
While you could plan a night of entertainment and showcase your newly honed home-chef chops by whipping up a meal for your guests, it can be too much trouble to create a multiple course meal from scratch. Here’s a perfect solution for you: leave the cooking to the experts, while you sit back, relax and enjoy a delicious meal.
Private dining and home chefs, which were a novelty just a few years back, have exploded in popularity. They cater to private parties set up in their own homes, or you can invite them to your home at your convenience.
Marketed through word-of-mouth and social media, former professional chefs have opened little restaurants in their own homes, without the massive rentals and manpower costs to worry about. Foodies who have full-time jobs have turned their abodes into weekend diners to indulge their passions and make some money on the side.
The options, too, are endless. From homely Singaporean fare whipped up by retiree uncles and aunties looking to pass the time, to European cuisine served by chefs trained in world-class fine dining restaurants, there is something for everyone’s palate.
Here are five home chefs worth checking out, if you are up for something different.
One Kind House
Enter the One Kind House and you will be greeted by a lush garden growing local vegetables and herbs, as well as a feisty 76-year-old Mummy Soh, grandmother, entrepreneur and feisty home chef rolled into one.
One Kind House cooks Singaporean classics served in a rustic two-storey house reminiscent of Singapore’s kampong days. The house, which is located in Singapore’s historic eastern suburbs, was opened to travellers and the curious as a way to preserve its heritage and to keep Mummy Soh active in her golden years.
Before Covid-19 struck, One Kind House was offered on Airbnb Experiences as a way for tourists to get in touch with Singapore’s local culture. With no tourists allowed into Singapore, One Kind House has turned to cooking small batches of Mee Siam, Laksa, Kedongdong sambal and Rendang for takeout only.
The Ampang Kitchen
Itching for some ayam buah keluar or some Nonya-style rojak? Chef Raymond Leong and his two sons of The Ampang Kitchen are serving Nonya classics for your home gathering. Dine-in services at his Jalan Ampang landed home in the exclusive Bukit Timah area has been paused due to Covid-19 rules, but you could still sample his famous Peranakan offerings for a reasonable price.
Lucky House Cantonese Private Kitchen
Chef Sam Wong of Lucky House Cantonese Private Kitchen serves up traditional Cantonese fare in his retro-style home, his verandah adorned with a bountiful vegetable garden and a hand-operated stone mill for making an almond paste. Expect charcoal-boiled soups and stir-fries cooked over a blistering hot fire, the way traditional Chinese cooking is done.
The food is served piping hot, the effort that goes into each dish tedious and pain-staking, and the dishes are served up with a smile by Chef Wong. He even has his own YouTube channel, with tutorials on how to make Cantonese fare such as tofu prawn and salted fish fried rice.
Chef Naughty Rabbit
Nabeel Firdaus, known by his moniker Chef Naughty Rabbit, specialises in Halal-certified dry-aged steaks and seafood, cooked on the spot and in front of his diners with a handy blow-torch.
Chef Firdaus cut his teeth in restaurants such as Bread Street Kitchen and Fika Swedish Cafe. He trained at At-Sunrice Global Chef Academy. His current menu features blow-torch squid with tomato salsa and chipotle jam, duck breast with smoked paprika sour cream and sumac, dry-aged rib-eye and his own take on crème brûlée. He is in high demand, so you will need to book him a month in advance.
The Wood Ear
Named after the wood ear mushroom, a type of edible fungus used widely in Chinese cooking, this private dining establishment serving Teochew and French-inspired cuisines is helmed by Chef Jesper Chia. He serves his fare out of his housing board flat in Choa Chu Kang, in the west of Singapore.
Chef Chia opens The Wood Ear on Saturdays only. The menu changes regularly – these days, he serves up chicken rice, char siew, fish and chips and rojak, inspired by local Singaporean dishes. All his dishes are beautifully plated and meticulously explained, it feels like you are celebrating a special occasion at an expensive restaurant.