Monday, February 26, 2018

Ter'ra X Kin: The Making Of...

21st December 2017:

The sparks between 2 total strangers started off with an Instagram post.

Someone actually took my instatories seriously? Anyway, it's definitely a relief he/she liked my recommendation.

Crying Thaiger was closing in a couple of days, so was #findthelockerroom (which has just re-opened at an equally-confidential location). Alone, unwell and a little freezing in the cold Bangkok winter, I made a lonely tour that night to say goodbye to a couple of places close to my heart.

I took a deep breath before sliding open the lockers at #findthelockerroom one final time, expecting a rowdy horde, aiming to find a vacant space to quietly show my support. Then someone raised his hand, as if he already knew me, and confirmed if I was @strangerinbangkok. It was Mr @fooddaytoyou, Justin! Even more incredibly, he's also from Kuching. What were the chances?!

22nd January 2018:

"Do you think he (Top) might want to do a simple tasting menu at a wine shop when he is around?"

This was a WhatsApp message sent to me by Justin out of the blue. Chef Top (Pongcharn Russell) from Freebird (Justin enjoyed the food there during his Bangkok trip in December) was visiting Kuching during the Chinese New Year period as his girlfriend Michelle Goh (pastry chef from Suhring) would be visiting back home (she's from Kuching too). An idea sprouted out of nowhere, and I was determined to make it work.

By the end of that very day, the chefs had given me a "yes" and the ball was back in Justin's court to find the right restaurant with all the equipment requested for the kitchen takeover.

23rd January 2018:

"We are on for 13Feb dinner," Justin.

"Yaaaaay," me.

"Venue will be at Kin. They have a full working kitchen and equipment."


24th January 2018:

A rough draft of the 6-course menu has been sent by Michelle. Being local, she selected only ingredients that can already be found easily in Kuching.

"There's no point going to Kuching to serve farmed salmon or Australian beef," Top added.

26th January 2018:

We received a market list of 48 items from the chefs. 48 items for 6 dishes!

2nd February 2018:

"Hey Top regarding the snapper, cannot guarantee supply. Boats are all docked. Both consumers and restaurant owners are already stocking up. The supplier we contacted is a major supplier of many restaurants in Kuching. Flash frozen fish." Message from Aaron, the owner of Kin, the restaurant hosting the event. He's been working out of his skin to source for the required ingredients.

Having the event during Chinese New Year was a blessing yet a curse. It was the only window everyone was available in Kuching, yet it was also the only time that Kuching's strength in wild-caught seafood becomes its weakness, when the bad weather and festive rush threatened to deprive us of our most important ingredients.

The final menu, beautifully put together by Sze Lyn, Mrs @fooddaytoyou.

11th February:

"The clams are starting to smell." Aaron.

Our clams were dying?

12th February:

"Good morning. Top is at Borneo Medical Centre now with fever," Michelle.

It was a day before the event, a few hours before our final briefing. The 2 chefs only had 1.5 days to prepare from touch-down till serving our first dish.

Top was burning with high fever.


To be continued........

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