Interview, Lifestyle

MF Couch: Chef Vijay on the culinary offerings at Hilton Singapore Orchard

MF Couch: Chef Vijay on the culinary offerings at Hilton Singapore Orchard

With aeroplane-free escapes in higher demand than ever before, the quest to find an out-of-town culinary retreat has now become a perennial one. Located in the vibrant street of Orchard, Singapore, the newest gargantuan property of Hilton Hotel houses plenty of tantalising choices to choose from its five uniquely curated concepts eateries – from Osteria Mozza by celebrated chef Nancy Silverton to residential all-day dining restaurant Estate, to handcrafted spirits, brews and pastries at Ginger Lily to Two-Michelin-starred Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro as well as award-winning Chatterbox – your gastronomy journey here is filled with massive excitements.

Already becoming a go-to restaurant for the best Italian cuisine, Osteria Mozza offers nothing but perfection in every creation. The signature mozzarella bar offers a selection of five different mozzarellas, burratas and fresh cheeses, and an impressive array of imported Italian cured meats while pastas selections are impressive with 10 daily in-house handmade to the one created especially for Singapore – all mixed or accompanied by fresh seasonal selections. Pizza at Osteria Mozza is the art of a master bread baker. There are nine options altogether cooked in the restaurant’s custom Wood Stone wood-burning pizza oven – if you’re a big fan of this dish, you’d know these would be the good ones. In the dessert department, the menu is centred around the joy and art of gelato where local tropical fruits like pineapple and rambutan feature prominently, besides Silverton classics like Butterscotch Budino and Rosemary Olive Oil Cakes, Tin Roof Sundae and Coconut Sorbetto Pie.

That’s just about Osteria Mozza, and there are a lot more to unpack. We catch up with chef Vijay, Culinary Director at Hilton Singapore Orchard to get in-depth about the culinary offerings.


How does it make you feel to be one of the key figures in Hilton Orchard’s culinary scene?

I feel very honoured to be a part of the team. From the day I was I recruited up until today, the eight years journey of me with Hilton has been nothing but amazing. We did many great projects and openings throughout the years, and I feel very humble that they have great trust in me to lead the team to a better future.


What brought you to the Hilton?

The obvious reason is because of the brand. Hilton is known worldwide for its excellence in service for both hospitality and culinary. Prior to my role here in Hilton Orchard, I was with Waldorf Astoria Maldives for three years where I and my team were overlooking eleven different individual restaurants there. The experience really tested my role as a leader but I was so thankful to be blessed with such amazing manpower. When I received the news about my expertise is needed at Hilton Singapore, I was a bit excited and nervous at the same time because the new opening will be Hilton’s biggest hotel in Southeast Asia, and due to that people might have a really high expectation for its offerings. However, we made it here and by far the responses to our services and culinary choices have been spectacular, which also drives me to do better and come out with more exciting ideas.


How do you build a team in such a specific environment?

I have been working with quite a number of good names in this industry and I have learned a lot from them including how to build a good team. I have learned that a good team starts with a good leader, and to be a good leader you will need to know on how to find the right balance between becoming a superior and a co-worker. It’s not just about ‘I want it to be like this’ or ‘I want it to be like that’, it’s more about ‘how can we get this thing done in better ways.’ They say two heads are better than one, and indeed it is true. Other than that, we need to also know how to find a good team member, and as a leader, you should have that skills under your sleeves, and if you don’t you can ask around based on other people’s opinions. Last but not least, you should also show a good example to them. This links to my first point about finding the right balance between a superior and a co-worker. You will earn good respect if you show a good example to your teammates.


Since you took the helm of the Hilton Singapore kitchen, how’d you describe the hotel’s culinary style?

I would say that we’re becoming more appreciative of the ingredients. We’re bringing more flavours that are true to the original taste with some exciting twists here and there. At Hilton Singapore also, we are very versatile with our offerings – from oriental to Italian, Western and local – you may find almost everything here.


Can you share with us the process behind your menu creation?

Every place has its own cuisine specialty, and in Singapore, we are very generous with our flavours and spices. When creating a dish, I try to connect the elements that our international guests are familiar with while keeping it true to our national identity, one of the examples is our Black Truffle Duck. The duck is roasted in a traditional way but the marination is mixed with truffle.


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Do you have a favourite dish from your creation?

That would be the Patagonian Tooth Fish. This dish has been travelling the world with me and I have been reiterating it with different treatments from time to time. I’d say it is my signature menu.


Is that what you’d recommend for those who are new here?

Absolutely. This would be the ultimate dish that our guests should try out. Other than that, I would also recommend our Nasi Goreng. As simple as it sounds, our Nasi Goreng is nothing like you tried at any other place. Like I said before, we always bring in some new turns to our creation, and for this dish, it is on the paste. No matter what time it is, our Nasi Goreng is a joy to your palette, be it for breakfast, lunch, tea time, dinner or even supper.


What’s your future plan for the Hilton Singapore Orchard?

We have a lot in our pipeline but for the time being, we are focusing on consistency, delivering the same great quality that we have already given out while creating something new and more exciting for our guests to enjoy in the future. We are still new here and we have a long way to go, the best is yet to come.


Click here to read our review of our stay at Hilton Singapore Orchard.