Attarine Executive Chef Jacob Burrell takes pride in his experience and love of working with local suppliers and seasonal ingredients to create original and authentic cuisine. It is hard to imagine that he used to be a picky eater, which all changed when he started working in the kitchen.
“I was a chronic picky eater. I used like to eat broccoli and radishes. I wouldn’t touch seafood. I like bread and cheese. I was pretty tall and super skinny when I was younger. I think because of that, my mom was kind of very generous to me. She always saying ‘you need to eat.’ I was really picky and she would cook something else for me,” said Jacob, reminiscing about his childhood.
His attitude to food changed when he hits his 20s. At that time, Jacob had already worked in a kitchen. He was not eating much and was super skinny. He would spent most of the day chopping carrots. He was surviving the days only by eating noodles.
“There was a big buffet in a restaurant where I worked. There was a senior cook, he would give me some food. I think it was linguini and I was asking what is this – I was still picky at that time. He just said, ‘just eat, it’s good.’ So I ate that, very quickly because I still had work. Toward at the end, I realized it was seafood, things that normally I wouldn’t touch, let alone eating it. And at that point, I said to myself, it tasted pretty good and it changed me. I was even questioning myself, why I didn’t eat certain stuff when I was a kid.”
When asked to recreate retro food, Jacob created a series of dishes that he likes to eat.
The first dish is a staple, creamed spinach. Back when he was younger, the food came in frozen boxes and he just need to microwave it if he want to eat it. Jacob put his favorite brocolli as the main character. He shaved the broccoli very thinly and used milk-based sauce with cheese, a little bit of yogurt and a little bit of parmesan. He added a whole boiled onion to strengthen the flavor.
The second dish is an old fashioned omelette but he turned it into sophisticated souffle involving a lot of techniques. Jacob claimed that he always had a soft spot for omlettes. He remembered he used to work in a kitchen where all the ingredients were taken from the restaurant’s farm.
“We served this omelette whenever someone important came in. We got the eggs directly and we also made the butter and seasalt. It is very simple; egg, seasalt, and butter. But of course, the technique is more complicated.”
Then comes chicken a la king, which is basically chicken and vegetables with a white gravy sauce, usually served with bread. Jacob used a chicken stock base instead of milk. This adds more flavor and makes for fancier presentation.
The last dish takes its inspiration from a dessert that he used to drink after school. He described it as half milkshake and half smoothie. There was a beverage sold by a chain juice shop he liked, made from orange juice blended with milk and egg powder. This time, Jacob used coconut milk and mango, reflecting his love for seasonal ingredients to create original and authentic cuisine.
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Written by Tatu HutamiPhotographs by Danny AWApril 30, 2017.