After numerous correspondences, one of my readers was kind to extend an invitation to my GrandMentor, Mentor and me to lunch, to appraise his culinary skills, in hope of becoming the next-in-line to be Managed & Represented by AMDG.
The date was set on 24th April 2010... I had only less than 24 hours to log into my Facebook account and send a Private Message & deliver this piece of really good news to him!
It all started when Frankson sent me a private message in Facebook, asking me for some pointers to aid him in venturing into a business of his own in the F&B sector.
He was; in fact my very first reader who had directly asked for my help with regards to running a Business... And as the Author of “This Is My Story...,” I felt the need to help him if I’ve the means to - in all ways I can – on his path to achieve his dream; just like how my Mentor & GrandMentor has helped me achieve mine - Honestly, I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing... But a strong feeling inside me felt compelled to help any reader of mine if I've the means & ability to.
Also, being one of the pioneer Artistes of AMDG, I took it upon myself to be on the look-out for potential candidates who can be Managed & Represented.
It actually took us a few rounds of ping-pong-ing to go through his idea & concept via Private-Message over FB - And of course, the most vital aspects at the end of the day; still boils down to the taste of the food and the persona of the Chef. Therefore, Frankson invited my GrandMentor, Rena (Artiste & Talent Manager of AMDG) and me to a session of food tasting & appraisal.
The opportunity finally came for Frankson... It was 23rd April 2010 Friday afternoon when I received an email from GrandMentor informing me that he will be available on 24th April 2010 (after almost a month of waiting...). It was a pretty impromptu, sudden & abrupt arrangement and I was worried Frankson may not be able to get my message in time... Thus every hour, I would check to see if he had received my message.
By midnight, Frankson still had yet responded to my message in Facebook, so I sent an SMS to update GrandMentor on the status, and he said, “Let Destiny Decide The Outcome... Don’t Worry Too Much About It. If It's Meant To Be; It Will Eventually Be...” To me, it would be a pity if Frankson didn’t get this message in time, because I do not know how long he had to wait again if he missed this date simply because I know Rena & my GrandMentor's schedule had always been very tight to begin with (Even for me, I must book my GrandMentor 2 weeks before hand if I need to see him face-to-face).
First thing on Saturday morning, I checked my inbox again, and I heaved a deep sigh of relief to see Frankson's reply finally! I quickly informed GrandMentor and Rena, and arrangements was made to meet up shortly.
At about three in the afternoon, we arrived at the doorstep of Culina, situated in Dempsey, and Frankson, like any good host, came out to receive us upon receiving Rena’s call that we are here; and he personally ushered us to our reserved table & got us seated comfortably, and politely he excused himself to the kitchen to get ready for his "magic"... Cooking that is.
The premises of Culina is not just a restaurant, but a Gourmet Boutique doubled up as a Wine haven.
The emphasis is in the freshness & uniqueness of their imported food & beverage products, and you can tell how thriving their business is just by observing the cashier – The register never stops... Ka-ching!
I was pretty excited about today’s food tasting because I love eating good food!
First dish up, was the “Quail”. Truthfully speaking, I’ve never eaten Quail before and I don’t really know what it tastes like... but since it’s a kind of bird, the closest taste I can imagine it to be like is, chicken.
And after putting a piece into my mouth, it somehow tastes like Soft Shell Crab, as it is also fried in a batter... But after chewing up the pieces and tasted the meat of this starter, it does tastes somewhat like chicken! Really! So, if you've never eaten Quail meat, it really tastes like chicken.
As we waited for the next dish to be served, a basket of Bread & Vinegar was brought to our table.
Although it’s a MUST for me to dab vinegar whenever it comes to Steamed Soup Dumplings (a.k.a. Xiao Long Bao), having it with bread did not really appeal to me much...
However, I found something else that went well with it instead later on.
Just for the record... Soup & stew with lots of vegetables and meat in it, has always been my favourite! And Should you give me a bowl of soup for dinner, I’m more or less contented.
Anyway, “Soup” was the next dish served in a tilted oval bowl and mine had a cute smile in it. If the strong, rich flavour of seafood is to your taste, this is D' soup you must try... And with every spoonful, you can expect to chew on tiny pieces of fresh, tangy lobster meat.
Next on the menu was the medium-rare Beef, I was expecting it to be tough (that’s what I’ve heard... If its three-quarter cooked, it’ll be a tad tough. If it’s medium rare, it’ll be bloody and in some occasions, the meat gets too chewwwy to bite... I don’t know...) Close friends of mine will know that I personally like my food soft and sweet, and that’s why I enjoy desserts!
When I saw Rena sliced the beef, I saw a diluted red patch on her plate and I got concerned. I was trying to recall the taste of blood and I crossed my fingers, and hope the piece of beef I took would not remind me of it. I carefully placed the sliced beef into my mouth and sank my teeth into it. MMmmmm... Tender... Juicy... and nothing like what I’ve heard! It didn’t taste bloody even though it was medium-rare. It wasn’t tough nor chewy either. Most importantly, I’m really enjoying this particular beef that has a balanced texture on the inside, as well as the outside. In addition, the “beef” that was meant to be dipped into the lemony-mustard sauce, gave the natural flavour of the beef a refreshing zest. The lemony-mustard itself had a soft and smooth texture to it (unlike normal mustard which is thicker and has a certain aftertaste, not to my liking...) and the lemon in it; actually made such a huge difference as it lightens and refreshes the whole concoction. Besides, here is where the “bread” comes in! This lemony-mustard sauce not only compliments the “beef”, but goes really well as a spread for the “bread” too... Nice!
When the “rice” was served afterthat, it looked less appetizing compared to the wonderful beef I had a while ago... But I was taught never to judge a book by its cover, so I scooped a spoonful into my mouth.
Similarly to my experience with Quail meat, I’ve never eaten “rice” cooked this way and it was something different to me... Each grain was firm yet soft... In fact, if you were to ask me, this dish has a really unique taste... It’s like one of those dishes that aren’t your favourite at first, but the more you eat, the more you’ll get comfortable with it and find that it is indeed not bad after all...
The next following dish had an oriental taste to it. The diced tomatoes and onions were decked on top of a palm-sized thick and juicy mushroom and topped off with a peak of crab-meat. I enjoy eating mushrooms because it has a springy texture to it and it has the ability to absorb the flavour of the accompanying ingredients (like how a “Tau Pok” soaks up the laksa gravy).
“Crab-meat Mushroom” hasn’t disappointed me at all... What a succulent mushroom!
Rena & GrandMentor loves Aglio Olio Pasta and I believed they both enjoyed this dish, “pasta” much!
Nothing too fanciful, but the simplicity and lightness of this dish are already beauties on its own.
In it, there were small pieces of pan-fried scallops too. To give this dish a stronger “personality", it had a faint buttery milky-ness safely controlled by a sprinkle of ground black pepper.
“Lamb Rack” was served next and among all the dishes we’ve had so far, this dish had the best presentation.
There were two pieces of lamb rack between a leafy display and my favourite, potatoes!
As we all know, Lamb has a particular mucky taste... This dish also has a minimal such taste...
However, when you eat it together with the saucy puree, not only the mucky taste is gone, the two balances into a sweet and tangy combination.
The food appraisal was supposed to end off with a dessert which Frankson was in the midst of preparing, when we embarrassedly told him we had to leave for our next appointment and we are running pretty late actually.
We had not expect the session to last more than two hours... And truth is... I was so looking forward to dessert after all the good food he had whipped up for us earlier...
And we unanimously agree his food is UP to the mark! (Great job Frankson... Though GrandMentor did said that there's still room for improvement, and he has confidence in you... So, strive on!)
As we left Culina, Frankson thanked me for bringing GrandMentor and Rena down that afternoon. It was only today that I got to meet Frankson personally for the first time after weeks of corresponding via FB private message, and he is a very shy, nice & humble guy with great attitude!
And I am delighted & happy to see that the person I’ve helped to make the connection today; is so appreciative, grateful and thankful...
GrandMentor actually said to me after we left the place, "I Like Him As A Person... Nice Chap."
Though it was just a minute role I played today, but it sure brought me great satisfaction & happiness just by sharing Frankson’s joy!
After this first round… Rena will be scheduling a second round with Frankson to further discuss how AMDG can help bring him to the next level after his 10 plus years of experience as an European Cuisine Chef - and GrandMentor said with his persona, it will be good to position & brand him as an exclusive Private Chef targeted at the upper echelon society of Singapore.
If nothing goes wrong during Round 2… I know GrandMentor will guide him in his development & advancement; just like how I was guided & adviced back then.
Well Frankson, I sincerely wish you well, and may you soar like an Eagle one day!
P/S: My favourite dish of the day was the “beef”... Till now, I can still clearly remember the taste of that lemony-mustard sauce I had that afternoon. In fact... I’m someone who hates mustard due to its foul taste... but this has all changed now - I now have a love-hate relationship with mustard... So when I’m asked, “Do you like mustard?” or “Do you take mustard?” I guess I would say “May I request to taste the mustard first?”