Interview with Chef Sam Leong and family

Meet the three-generation chefs at Forest in July 2015.
Meet the three-generation chefs at Forest in July.

Chef Sam Leong’s family may prove culinary talent is in the genes–he, his wife, son and mum team up to present a twist on Forest森’s famous Sunday Lunch with the Forest森 3-Generation Sunday Lunch in July 2015.

Every Sunday, the 8-course menu includes four special dishes from three generations of Leong chefs. Better yet, you’ll meet one of the Leongs each week as they prepare their individual star dish in front of you. RWS Invites Magazine sat down with the family to chat about cooking and food inspiration.

Interview with Sam Leong

RWS Invites Magazine: Why did you decide to do a “3 generation” lunch menu?

Sam Leong: I was thinking about what we could offer loyal customers who are familiar with my cooking. As some guests already know, my wife cooks too. My mum has been cooking for a long time and my son is training to be a pastry chef, so I thought, why not introduce recipes from them? We had already started working on a “3G” cookbook featuring recipes from all of us, so it was good timing.

What inspires you in the kitchen?

My travels. I love trying the local cuisine. Like in India, I’ll try a curry and then think about how I can use curry in Chinese cooking. Or when I’m in China, some of the plates are so beautiful that they inspire me to think of new ways to present my own dishes.

Favourite ingredient to work with?

Seafood. It’s easy to work with, and you don’t need to work hard like marinating or hours, to make it taste good.

Interview with Forest Leong

Joe Leong and Forest Leong preparing a dish.
Joe Leong and Forest Leong preparing a dish.

Are you excited to cook together with your family?

Yes! It’s not the first time the family is working together–sometimes for family gatherings the four of us will all cook. But this will be the first time we’re cooking together for a public event.

What’s your favourite dish made by the other three?

I love Mama Leong’s bitter gourd and pork ribs in black bean sauce. Whenever I request for this dish, she’ll cook a 3-litre pot just or me!

Must-have tools in the kitchen?

Knives! I have a few favourites. While our family may cook together, we don’t share knives!

What inspires you?

Wet markets inspire me, and I’m constantly driven by curiosity. What are the locals buying, what are they queuing for? What exactly about a dish keeps people back for more, or visiting the same stall over and over again? What’s the “secret ingredient”? I like to preserve traditional recipes, yet try to include something to improve the dish.

Interview with Joe Leong

Joel Leong's Matcha Tiramisu Kahlua Jelly.
Joel Leong’s Matcha Tiramisu Kahlua Jelly.

When did you start cooking?

With my grandparents and parents all chefs, I pretty much grew up in the kitchen. Initially I didn’t think about cooking as a career–I was a tennis player, but injuries prevented me from taking that further. When I was 13 or 14 I started thinking more seriously about cooking–I remember asking my mother if I could just quit school and go to cooking school. But she said I should at least finish my O Levels, and in the meantime, I worked part-time.

Who taught you to cook?

About 5 years ago, I worked with chef Janice Wong of 2am:dessertbar, where I learned all about pastry and molecular gastronomy. Then I had a stint under Resort World Sentosa’s [award-winning pastry chef] Kenny Kong, where I really built up my pastry foundations.

What’s the first dish you perfected?

I’m still learning, but I think my best dessert is my caramel lava cake. I think I’ve perfected the recipe, which may be included in our family cookbook. It should be out in November.

Must-have tools in the kitchen?

I love knives! I get it from my mother. I guess most people don’t associate knives with pastry chefs, but I have a paring knife I really like, and it has to be very sharp. Cakes need to have clean cuts.

Interview with Mama Leong

Chef Sam Leong and Mama Leong preparing a dish.
Chef Sam Leong and Mama Leong preparing a dish.

It’s clear from her serene demeanour that Madam Pit Yoke Eng, affectionately known as “Mama Leong”, is happy to have the chance to spend time with her family, while being able to share her star dish, a double-boiled pork rib and watercress soup.

Through her family’s translation, she answers a few questions on Leong family life.

What inspires you in and outside of the kitchen?

My family! Whatever the family likes to eat, I’m happy to cook their favourite dishes for them.

What are your specialty dishes?

Curry chicken, bitter gourd with chicken, old cucumber and bone marrow soup.

Do you cook for the family at home?

Since Sam and Forest are both working in restaurants, and Joe usually doesn’t come home till late, it’s difficult to fix a time for the whole family to gather for dinner. Usually we do so once every three months. But I love cooking for my family, so I’ll prepare extra quantities of dishes and nourishing soups so they can have them for supper!

This article was first published in RWS Invites Magazine July 2015 issue.

Enjoy Forest 森 3 Generation II menu

From 16 April to 13 May 2016, enjoy selected dishes featured on TV series Chefs on Wheels. The four-course menu changes weekly, showcasing a speciality from each of the Leong chefs–Sam, Forest, mother Mama Leong and son Joe.

 

Week I

16 to 22 April

Week II

23 to 29 April

Week III

30 April to 6 May

Week IV

7 to 13 May

Mama Leong Poached Chicken with Spring Onion in Oyster Sauce Braised Pork with Fermented Beancurd served with Japanese Fragrant Rice Double- boil “Yu Pew” Fish Maw Broth with Crabmeat and Shitake Mushroom Double-boiled Mushroom consommé with
Assorted Mushroom in Superior Chicken broth
Sam Leong Yellow Pumpkin Broth with Crabmeat, Conpoy and Fish maw 3 hours Simmered Lamb Rack “Bak Kut Teh” Consomme Sashimi Hokkaido Scallop Infusion Tuna in Soy Yuzu dressing Ah Sam Mee Sua
Served with Abalone in Superior Chicken Stock
Forest Leong Pan fried Lamb Chop accompanied with wok-fried Radish cake in Red Curry sauce Deep fried Prawn coated with Salted Yolk Cream On bed of Dragon Fruit Sous Vide 55°c Salmon with Chili Tamarind Coulis Sauce Spicy Minced Duck Meat Salad
Wrapped with Lettuce
Joe Leong Banana Walnut Financier with Coconut Cream and Pineapple Compote Pistachio Raspberry Mousse Citrus Olive Cake with Mint Vanilla Pana Cotta and Raspberry Gelee Carrot Cake with Peach & Apricot Compote

 

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