More about Me



My mum passed away when I was five. I cannot really remember much about her as she spent most part of her last days away from us seeking treatment everywhere and was in and out of hospital. But I can still remember the Hakka “Lei Cha” dish that she would take effort to prepare for us on days when she was feeling better. The way she grinded the tea leaves and mint in a mortar, the combined aroma of tea, nuts, sesame and the many different types of vegetables finely chopped and fried to perfection will always stuck in my memory.

Grandma's Lor Mee Stall
Grandma took care of us when my mum was sick and after she had passed away. I used to help out at her “Lor Mee” stall along the five-foot-way (Covered pedestrian walkway on the ground floor of shophouses that were commonly seen in Singapore and Southeast Asia in the last century) at Blanco Court, North Bridge Road. It is a no brainer why Lor Mee became one of my favourite local dishes. Whenever I have a bowl of the sticky yellow noodle, I will think of Grandma and that part of my growing-up years.

When I was in Junior College, there was this mushroom and shredded chicken hor fun stall at Bedok South Food Center directly across our school (No prize for guessing which JC I was from) that I used to patronize almost every day. The rice noodle was delicious and the serving portion was huge.  It was a very simple dish but I went back many times during NS days and even after that to reconnect with that part of my life. The stall had since moved or ceased operation.

When was the last time you had this?
And most recently my little boy came back home from the day-care center with some sweets from his friend’s birthday party. It was very sweet of him to offer me one of those “Big Rabbit” milk candy. I was very excited as I unwrapped and ate it. I had not had a “Big Rabbit” candy for nearly 30 years and certain memories quickly came back  as I carefully peeled off the thin edible “paper” wrap made of sticky rice. I ate the “paper” and candy separately – the exact same way I used to eat them 30 years ago. I was transported back in time to the back alley of the shophouse where I had hours of fun everyday with the kids from the same neighbourhood. I thought about the bicycles parked along the alley and the various games that we played.

The point I am trying to make is food connects. The taste, smell and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting. Food is an effective trigger of deeper memories of feelings and emotions, internal states of the mind and body.

For this reason, I always insist on having meal together with the family as much as possible. On the same note, I will try to cook for the family at home (aka Restaurant 2706) on weekends and expose the kids to different food culture. One day when I leave this world, they can still connect with me and my wife through food. I am very pleased whenever Ashley requests to have her favourite seafood Risotto for Sunday dinner, Audrey wants her pork ribs and Ashton’s favourite for now is the sous vide beef cheek.

Then comes wine. Just like food which goes beyond mere eating, wine goes much beyond mere drinking. Together with food, wine connects people and bring us together. Pairing food with the right wine is like discovering interesting new recipes. Just like the right combination of ingredients complements each other to create a gourmet dish, pairing the right wine with a meal creates a combination that celebrates and enhances the experience of food and wine.

With all these in mind, I started this little blog of mine as my life journal to note down the recipes that I have tried, the wine that we savour, the gatherings that we all come together, the holiday fun that the family has enjoyed. As the kids grow up and we grow old, we can all look back at these posts and say, “Hey, the best way to cook beef cheek was still Daddy’s way!” or “That was one of the best wine that we had shared..”.

Even when I am gone, my children and their children, my loved ones and my friends can continue to connect with me through this space.

Cheers.





Chef and Sommelier

44 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Are you reading this page for the 1st time? I'm surprised.

      Anyway, Thanks and I'm sure this will really become a space for us to connect once you are in Canada.

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  2. Good to see someone who understands the thought process behind the preparation of food instead of those conventional clueless bloggers!

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  3. hi, nice to know a little about you. yes, that rabbit candy, me too had that during my primary schooldays..gosh..that was so long ago..i wonder if they are still selling this..you ate the paper separately? i just popped the whole thing into my mouth! anyway, nice knowing your blog and will come by later to read your posts. Going zzz now..have a good time for the rest of the week!

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    1. Hi Lena! Thanks for taking time reading this little story of mine.

      BTW, I read your self-intro. Wings need not and should not be frozen forever. Spread your wings and fly freely as you wish to see and experience the world. Just remember to fly back to your nest at the end of the day.

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  4. Like you, I'm intrigued by food since young. My grandfather sold tau huay in those large aluminium pots caddied at the back of his bicycle which he would ride around to sell.

    Recently committed myself to a sous vide machine as well. Will look up your recipes for ideas and inspiration :)

    Alan

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alan! Thanks for dropping by and I'm glad to know a guy with common interest!

      So do you know the art of making good Tau Huay? :)

      Sure, let's exchange ideas and I would love to learn from you too!

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  5. Thanks for visiting my blog and saying hello. I enjoyed reading your story. The warmth of your childhood and the impact your grandmother made on your life, radiates from your writing. I grew up in Bedok South, I like grandmas and white rabbit candy, and I like your blog :)

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  6. Hi Denise! Great to know that we share something in common and you like it here. Thank You for dropping by!

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  7. "I used to help out at her “Lor Mee” stall along the five-foot-way (Covered pedestrian walkway on the ground floor of shophouses that were commonly seen in Singapore and Southeast Asia in the last century) at Blanco Court, North Bridge Road."

    I was in Singapore in 1973 and I used to eat at stalls in these lanes as they were cheaper, more affordable. I remember enjoying some mamak/Malay food at one stall in one of those lanes around North Bridge Road. Those were the days.

    Love your blog. Will browse through slowly - so many things to see and learn. Keep it up. Cheers!

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    1. Wow Uncle Arthur! 1973?! I was born that year!

      Thanks for dropping by and I respect your energy level... still crazy after all these years!!!

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  8. I really enjoy reading your blog...the way you cherish your family...caring the family through food...very traditional chinese! I believe you're such creative chef..you and your wife...go for it, open up the restaurant of your dream...it will be a sure success:)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Annie! Thank You for believing in me and my passion!

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  9. Hi, this is my first time here. Go through your blog just like reading a interesting story book :)
    Love you blog....wishing you & family Happy CNY and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Esther! Thanks for dropping by! You and family have a very prosperous Year of the Snake too!

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  10. Hi, I enjoy reading your blog n cooking too. Similarly I have 3 kids n am working full time mother. How do u get time to do this?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Hi! Thanks for dropping by... You mean finding time for cooking or blogging? :D

      I cook only on weekends and public holidays... on special occasions, I actually take leave to cook! :D

      I admit blogging is quite a challenge for me. I can only sort out the photos, write and post late at night after putting the kids to bed and sometimes my work requires me to work remotely from home. It's all about balance and time management... and sleeping less! :D

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  11. Love reading ur blog , ur food , decoration etc etc..... tks so much for sharing. I do love to cook also but i cant decorate such perfect like u did.

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    1. Thank you and I'm glad that you like it here!

      Pay attention to the details and observe how the top chefs do the plating... I'm sure you can do it!

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  12. ivy sew http://simplybeautifulhealthyliving.blogspot.comJuly 4, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    I am so glad I chanced upon your blog today. Fyi, I enjoy reading your blog and will go through your posts one by one.... :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Ivy! You have a new follower too!

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  13. Hi Alvin, nice to meet you in person. We have quite a few things in common. Catch up for makan and food photography some time soon :) - Sam

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sam! Great to meet you too! Sure sure... Let's meet up again soon! Just drop me a msg in FB! :D

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  14. Hi, Alvin

    Good to hear from you. A very interesting blog. I have only read through the introduction story above but it is really a meaningful way to connect.

    I will definitely be reading more whenever I have the time. Markus :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Markus! Hope you guys are still having great fun doing NS... without me! Haha!

      Nice to hear from you again! Cheers!

      Delete
  15. Lovely stories! So heart-warming and sincere, can't believe I just read it for the first time. Oh hello Alvin! :)

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    1. Hello Tris! I'm glad that you like the little stories of mine... Thanks!

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  16. Hello Alvin! its me Lucy. We met at Antoine's dinner. I still can't find you on facebook and its a bit frustrating. I'm reading your wonderful recipes!

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    1. Hi Lucy! You can click on the Facebook link here at my blog (right column).

      Delete
  17. Hi Alvin! Love ur write-up. Well said! Nice knowing u here, thanks to AFF! Will b following ur blog! Meanwhile, have a nice day ahead!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kuan Yoon! Thanks for stopping by and welcome to my space. You have a new follower!

      Delete
  18. Hi.

    Do you do private sommelier? Please advise.

    Thanks!

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  19. Hi,
    Chanced upon your blog while googling up on 'goldhill hakka restaurant'. An interesting find, I have to admit. You've gained a new stalker too (pardon me). Are you a Hakka by any chance?

    Frankly, I like how you do up this food blog - it's unbiased, unpretentiously genuine and coupled with a very personal touch. As compared to the many paid food bloggers out there, you do stand out and best of luck with the private chef idea! Always lovely to kickstart somewhere but you do sound expensive to hire!

    What are some of the wines you would usually go to without fail? Do share your findings :) Oh, if you happen to know of any good place to hunt for hakka food - please share as well :) I LOVE HAKKA FOOD. Especially abacus seeds and lei cha fan

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    Replies
    1. Hi Joycelyn! Welcome to my little space and Thank You so much for your kind words and encouragement. I appreciate that.

      My late mum was a Hakka and my dad a Hokkien.

      There is no particular wine that I stick to. It really depends on the food and the occasion.

      Have you tried the Golohill Hakka Restaurant yet? I quite like it... Give me your feedback after your visit!

      Cheers.

      Delete
  20. Hi Alvin, nice knowing you from the meet up this morning.

    I love to read and envy people who can express their thoughts and feelings through writing.

    I enjoy reading your blog. It’s so hearts warming. Now blogging will mean another thing to me… It will be for my children and love ones to continue to connect with me through my blog when one day I’m gone.

    I’m now so motivated to improve my cooking and baking for my love ones. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amy! I'm sorry for replying so late. Somehow, I just missed your comment completely!

      Yes, it was a great gathering with so many like-minded and talented home cooks and bakers like you and I look forward to the next one.

      Thanks for liking my blog!

      Delete
  21. Hi Yongyao, it has been a long time! Someone told me of your recent appearance on TV; I couldn't recognise you.:p Didn't know you are such a good chef. Anyway, good to see that you are doing well. I hope to try out your recipes someday. And I am sure your dream will come true one day. Cheers! :)

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    1. Hi KK! I am trying to recall which KK you are as there were many KKs who I know since I was a boy. You can email me at chefnsommelier@gmail.com. Thanks.

      Delete
  22. Hi Yongyao, it has been a long time! Someone told me of your recent appearance on TV; I couldn't recognise you.:p Didn't know you are such a good chef. Anyway, good to see that you are doing well. I hope to try out your recipes someday. And I am sure your dream will come true one day. Cheers! :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello, I'm from a local production company and we are looking for chefs that might be willing to participate in our upcoming project. If you're interested, you can contact me by emailing to n_atalieseet@yahoo.com. I hope to hear from you!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi,
    Just read your recipe for sous vide duck breast - looks great, will try soon. The link for roasted sweet potato mash is broken and cant find one that appears to roast skin on.
    Regards, Don.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Don! I have updated link. Thanks and hope you enjoy the sous vide duck breast. :)

      Delete

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