I have always believed that it is impossible to fully enjoy a chocolate éclair without ever being in love, being to Paris, or being in love in Paris. Food, to me, has always offered the most immediate path to emotions and experiences – whether it conjures up a crisp Spring morning in France, riotous family dinners at home, or warm fuzzy feelings of love.
The best chefs maintain this ongoing ‘conversation’ with you at the dining table. Like master storytellers, their food tells you about themselves; their personal journeys, joys and heartbreaks; and also trigger your most private memories and intimate experiences.
So it was a rare treat to speak with one-star Michelin chef Reine Sammut before relishing her creations at The Knolls, Capella Singapore, from 13-16 November. In this short tête-à-tête, the reigning Queen of Hearts talks about meeting her husband, her greatest source of inspiration, and what true love tastes like.
Reine Sammut on Food and Love…
If I weren’t a chef, I would have been a doctor. I fell in love with cooking when I fell in love with my husband Guy. I was studying medicine then, but I decided to leave school for him and learn cooking from my mother-in-law Claudette.
My greatest source of inspiration comes from travel and books. They are my portals to new worlds and perspectives. These experiences help me create food that evokes genuine emotions and create a sense of place.
My favourite comfort food is pasta. It’s like how some people would dig into a tub of ice cream when they are having a bad day… I think it’s impossible to have a bad day when you have freshly made pasta.
My favourite ‘cheap thrill’ food is sardine. They are chockfull of omega-3 fatty acids, and are sustainable and delicious. Even when prepared simply with olive oil and salt, they will win you over with their rich flavour.
An unusual and delicious food I’d recommend is Melokhia. This popular Middle Eastern soup or stew contains a namesake vegetable, which has a thick, viscous consistency somewhat similar to okra.
One of my favourite French restaurants is La Chassagnette in Arles. Set in the middle of an organic vegetable garden, this restaurant’s décor and food are irresistibly charming.
If I had to prepare one last meal, it would be bouillabaisse. This traditional Provencal fish stew contains many kinds of fish, seafood, olive oil, vegetables and herbs. You can taste the freshness of the sea and the garden in every single bite. We usually make this in a large pot and share it with family and friends, so this dish always makes me feel warm and think of the people I love.
Reine Sammut will be conjuring up culinary magic at CapellaSingapore’s The Knolls from 13-16 November. View her stellar menu HERE.