by Naomi Neoh | November 15, 2019
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From left to right: Purple Sage's Alan Tan, Chefs Justin Quek, Chef Immanuel Tee, Chef Devagi Sanmugam and Purple Sage's Chris Loh. (Purple Sage)

SINGAPORE - The resurgence of interest around heritage food in Singapore is making its way into business events, bringing to the table refined and innovative culinary interpretations of local dishes.

From black miso foie gras to a "har gow" dumpling made with Hokkaido scallop and uni, a new culinary initiative unveiled by Singapore-based boutique caterer Purple Sage on Nov 14 is reinventing local cuisine for events that marries the best of Asian flavours with Western culinary techniques.

More than a simple return to nostalgia and simplicity, the collaboration serves as a testbed that brings the best out of the combined chefs' experience and passion for authentic local cuisine and experimentation.

As a start to the initiative, two local culinary stalwarts Justin Quek (formerly of Michelin-starred Les Amis) and prolific cookbook author and chef Devagi Sanmugam were handpicked for this collaboration more than three months ago.

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A modern Asian dish of black miso foie gras with daikon, dashi broth and pickled shimeiji mushroom. (Naomi Neoh)

The distinguished chefs have been working with Purple Sage's newly-appointed executive chef Immanuel Tee, a rising culinary star who has trained in Michelin-starred restaurants such as Restaurant Andre, under the tutelage of Andre Chiang.

Purple Sage's co-owner and managing director Alan Tan said the move would enable the company "stay relevant in the industry while supporting our local chefs".

The move aims to cater to what Chris Loh, co-owner and creative director at Purple Sage, notes as the uptick in demand for "authentic traditional recipes done in a modern elegant style".

"Canapé and butler-passed food at events are common. The key difference is how to bring local food in this style by shrinking it to miniature size and making it sexy and exciting," said Ms Loh.

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Snack on "edible charcoal" atop pulled short rib beef rillette, smoked ash, romesco puree and pickled mushroom. (Naomi Neoh)

Sustainability focus

Another bigger area of focus for the caterer is sustainability and food waste, which has come under greater scrutiny in the last few years.

It is working with waste management partners and looking at solutions from biodigesters to using recycled table tops and crates for food displays to tackle the issue of waste at events.

But as the chefs themselves acknowledge, much of the effort to reduce food waste especially for large events boils down to planning, dish portions and experience.

Chef Tee shared that the company tries as best to source food locally and support local farms.

From the collaboration, Mr Tan shared the company has already secured a busy pipeline of events in Singapore over the first half of next year.

This year, it catered for events such as Ultra Singapore and is official caterer for National Museum of Singapore, Miaja Gallery and Jewel Changi Airport.