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  • Writer's pictureSasha Huang

Chef Alan Chan on Cantonese Cuisine at Cassia, Capella Singapore

INTERVIEW


This chef's addition to the talented team at Cassia, Capella Singapore is as grand and incredible as the hotel itself. Executive Chef Alan Chan previously honed his skills as Executive Chef at Jeju Shinhwa World Marriott Resort, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, and led the culinary team at one-Michelin-starred restaurant Jiang Nan Chun. He was awarded the Asian Cuisine Chef Chef of the year at the World Gourmet Summit Singapore in 2019, Outstanding Chef in 2017 and International Master Chef in 2018 at the World Top Gourmet Awards.


But despite his remarkable accomplishments, Chef Alan is a man of humility, professionalism and respectable culinary skills. He holds every lesson close to his heart and carries it wherever he goes during his over 30 years of experience. At Cassia, he puts his passion for Cantonese cuisine and craft to the plate. His artful and innovative creation of contemporary Cantonese cuisine takes traditional recipes to modern-day palates. Here, we chat with Chef Alan about his fruitful culinary journeys at Capella.



1. What do you love about Cantonese cuisine?


粵菜能夠把任何食材千變萬化烹調方式、簡單一道菜都可以烹調不同演繹式‘甜’酸‘苦’辣不同味蕾的享受,我也曾經走訪亞洲各地及歐洲國家品嘗過不同菜系,到今日也沒有改變對粵菜整體感覺菜品的食材新鮮,調味講究的感覺粵菜精粹。


Cantonese cuisine is flexible, and the ingredients can be cooked different; a simple dish can be changed drastically by tweaking its taste from sweet, sour, bitter and spicy, perfect for any taste buds. I have also visited various places in Asia and Europe to taste different cuisines, and it has changed today. The overall feeling of Cantonese cuisine is that the ingredients of the dishes are fresh, and the seasoning is exquisite. This is the essence of Cantonese cuisine.



2. Can you describe your cooking philosophy?


作為一位專業廚師,我們一定要在各項工作中秉承追求卓越的精神。菜單上的每一道菜都要經過無數次嘗試和調整,我們呈現的所有菜式都必須在口味和品質上保持一致。我們也要不斷學習,提高對各種食材的認識,而食材也是主要的靈魂,細心周到地為食客提供最好的服務,這就是我們對賓客的尊重方式,堅持理念教導身邊的廚師。


As professional chefs, we must uphold the spirit of excellence in all our work. Every dish has undergone countless trials and adjustments, as all dishes have to be consistent in taste and quality. As a chef, we must continue fine-tuning the various ingredients as they are the main stars of the dishes. Providing the best quality to diners is our way of respecting guests and standards for chefs around us to uphold.



3. What do you wish to bring to the diverse culinary scene of Singapore?


2001從我的家鄉’香港‘美食之都轉戰新加坡接近22年,這20多年曾經走訪過亞洲及歐洲各地品嘗過不同菜系,我也剛剛從韓國高級酒店工作五年回來,這次回來新加坡加入Capella Singapore 我會把入廚多年粵菜精粹⋯⋯再推上更高層次

在CASSIA新菜單中90%也是傳統粵菜為主,不過這次我的演繹手法有所不同⋯⋯我會把、炆、燉、扣、這三樣烹調粵菜精粹再重新包裝演繹。


In 2001, I moved from my hometown to Singapore for nearly 22 years. I have also just returned from working as a chef in a high-end Korean hotel for five years. Now that I have joined Capella Singapore, I will be bringing the essence of Cantonese cuisine that I have been refining for many years to push to new heights.


Cassia’s new menu will consist mainly of (90%) traditional Cantonese cuisine. However, during the process of revamping Cassia’s menu, I am implementing the essence of Cantonese cooking, from braising to stewing.



4. You were awarded the Asian Cuisine Chef of the year award at the World Gourmet Summit Singapore in 2016, Outstanding Chef in 2017 and International Master Chef in 2018 at the World Top Gourmet Awards. What has been your greatest moment in your culinary career?


在我的廚藝人生曾經經歷很多高低起跌,得到任何的獎項都要感恩面對,得到別人的認同及肯定更加要努力面對往後的廚藝人生。入廚34年招呼過很多世界級不同政要及領袖、令我最驕傲就是曾經招呼十大領袖之一李光耀先生⋯招呼李先生接近五年曾經安排菜單招在不同的晚宴上,印象最深刻記,有一次他主動跟我交談的時候我好像是小朋友一樣,細心聆聽每一言一語。


我也曾經做了一款以他為名⋯的滋補養生燉湯,也經過我細心調教搭配為他而設的,每月定期給李先生養生燉湯。


During my culinary journey, I have faced many ups and downs. I am grateful for any awards that I have gotten through my journey. As I achieve more recognition and affirmation, I will continue to work harder for my future in the culinary world.


I have been a chef for almost 34 years and have served many people from various political backgrounds and leaders. My most memorable and proud experience will be serving Mr Lee Kwan Yew. During this period, I have curated menus for their dinner parties while serving Mr Lee for close to five years. A fond memory was when Mr Lee spoke with me, and I listened attentively like a child.


I have also made a nourishing soup named after him, which I carefully fine-tuned specially for him and gave him every month to boost his health.



5. What advice would you give to yourself at the start of your culinary journey?


當然可以接受到刻苦耐勞,因為做飲食時間比較長,還有星期六.日.公眾假期,也要上班,每日對著公司同事多過對住屋企人,所以入行前這幾點慎重考慮一下。


要從一位小廚師在廚房裡不斷學習這個階段有時候真的想學多一點,「不怕蝕底」。因為不一定上班時間能夠學得到,上市時候每一個師傅都謹守崗位不能有過失,我身為總廚都會不斷觀察上市的時候每一位師傅出品品質、所以有時候小廚師也要用中午落班休息時間學習‘拋鑊’幫忙一些做值班的廚師學習切菜砧板一些等等,有付出一定有回報,但你沒有付出,根本唔會有成功的一天,廚房有多個不同的部門,能夠每一個部門都了如指掌要經歷很長很長的時間這條路非常艱辛、我奉獻想入行年青人千萬不要輕易放棄,有理想先有目標。


Going on this culinary journey will take a lot of hard work and perseverance (from long working hours to work over the weekends).


As a junior chef, working and learning on the job can be challenging. I strongly believe in the phrase when you’re starting out of “not being afraid to be at the bottom”. You will not get the full opportunity to learn on the job due to the working environment in the kitchen as all chefs will be tied up and busy. Being a chef now, I have decided to observe and pay attention to the quality of each chef’s dishes.


Chefs will have their off-duty time taken up to learn skills such as “the breath of the wok”, which requires much time and effort to develop as a chef to cut vegetables. If you put in the effort, you will see results. You will see zero results if you don’t put in any effort. To grasp what it takes to be a good chef in a kitchen requires time and effort, a journey that is not easy. For any young individual thinking of becoming a chef, do not give up easily! It would be best if you have ambitions before you set goals for yourself!




'For any young individual thinking of becoming a chef, do not give up easily! It would be best if you have ambitions before you set goals for yourself!' - Alan Chan.




6. How would you describe the dining scene at Cassia, Capella Singapore?


新加坡Capella中餐廳’凱嘉‘非常優雅高貴的用餐環境加上我為餐廳設計一些傳統港式粵菜.重新演繹的呈獻方式帶給每一位用餐的貴賓中式粵菜獨特風味。


Cassia, at Capella Singapore, brings guests an elegant experience. I have also masterfully curated some of the traditional Cantonese dishes in the restaurant.



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All imagery is provided by Capella Singapore.



Address: 1 The Knolls, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098297 | Website: capellahotels.com/en/capella-singapore/dining/cassia | Phone: +65 6591 5045 | Email: gr.singapore@capellahotels.com | Instagram: @capellasingapore | Facebook: @capellasingapore.sentosa


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