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Interview with chef Jimi Tegerdine of LeVel33

by Cherylene Chan

HungryGoWhere.com - 15 August 2014 1:05 PM | Updated 19 Aug 2014

Interview with chef Jimi Tegerdine of LeVel33

Chef Jimi Tegerdine | Photo: HungryGoWhere

Our first ever Booker's Banquet giveaway – an exclusive dinner for six, and more – sees two renowned Singapore chefs duke it out for the better menu. The stakes are high; the food is poised to reach higher than the usual top standards. We chat with chef Jimi Tegerdine of LeVel33 about his menu, and what we might expect from him:

What’s your philosophy to food and cooking?
For me, food is very personal. I can’t really explain it – it’s just a way of venting my imagination onto a plate.

So why did you choose food as a creative outlet?
I was young and I loved food, but my parents weren’t so good at cooking. I wanted to see what real food was about, so I packed my bags and left, and moved to Australia and found out over there.

Can you give us a sneak peak at what you’ve planned for your Booker’s Banquet menu?
It’s basically stuff that we haven’t used in the restaurant before, because I want my guys to play with new things. Whenever I do a funky new menu, there’s always a little extra that they get to learn. We’ve done a foie gras with chocolate air – a light and fluffy chocolate sponge – and cherries macerated in amaretto. A lot of my food is very sweet, because I have a very sweet tooth. The menu’s also more refined and skewed to fine dining, which we don’t do here – we’re normally casual and rustic.

In terms of flavours, ingredients and techniques, how else is the menu dfferent from LeVel33’s regular offerings?
We’ve done very small portions for a change. LeVel33’s usually all about big stuff. I’ve played with things that people haven’t eaten before as well. We’ve got red mullet, whch you rarely find over here.

Any particular courses you think the winners will love?
I think anyone would enjoy the dessert, unless they don’t like chocolate. I’ve called it Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate because I didn’t want to give anyone an idea of what it really is and how it’ll turn out. It’s 12 or 13 different textures of chocolate in there… it’s crazy.

How do you think your menu will have en edge over Equinox’s menu?
I’d say we have an advantage with the microbrewery. There are some very cool things we’ve done with the plating, and the menu’s super fine-tuned as well. The winners are in for a surprise. If they’ve eaten here before, they’ll realise it’s completely off the radar from what we normally do.

"I think anyone would enjoy the dessert, unless they don’t like chocolate. I’ve called it Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate. It’s 12 or 13 different textures of chocolate in there… it’s crazy."

Speaking of the microbrewery, who picked the beer pairings for the occasion, and what can we expect from that?
The beer pairings will be done by the brewmaster and myself. We haven’t actually sat down and settled that yet. But because its eight courses, and a lager might go with five of the dishes, giving someone five lagers won’t showcase what we do. And people will be so full if they drink six or seven pints, so I’ve suggesed a tasting paddle, which will have all of our beers, and we’ll have a couple of beer cocktails mixed in. We’ll put a fancy bottle of wine somewhere in the middle too.

What we look forward to about the Booker’s Banquet is seeing the different things each chef brings to the table and the boundaries they'll push. How have you chosen to show off your expertise or background with this menu?
The menu shows how I can mess around with flavours and stuff that people don't normally put together. I like to f**k things up. I hate to use the word 'fusion'. It’s more 'confusion' – but it works.

And what will make the winners’ dining experience unforgettable – how will it be different from dining at LeVel33 on a normal day?
They'll take the private room, so you can’t hear the rabble going on outside, and they’ll have their own wait staff for the evening. The private room has a good view of Marina Bay, and since it’s a sponsored room by Rothschild winery in France, it's all la-di-da and fancy. They’ll also get to spend some time with the brewmaster and myself.

What do you think of the Booker’s Banquet concept, and what interested you in taking part?
Taking part in Booker's Banquet is about being open-minded and saying I've done something different. Booker's Banquet is great – my friends are already rooting for it and asking how they can get in on it.

In your opinion, what makes reservations on Hungrygowhere the best tactic for dining out?
Before, you'd have to get on Google, search for reviews, search for the phone number – using this is much easier. I can just sit here and find restaurants I didn’t know about. You just go into a location, whack it in and you're done.

Book a table | LeVel33 | Address:#33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, 8 Marina Boulevard | Opening hours: Daily noon-midnight

Head over to our Booker’s Banquet page to find out more.