Creative Inklings

By Lisa Linder & Frankie Unsworth - LE PAN | Winter 2016-2017

Culinary alchemy is at the heart of Le Pan executive chef Edward Voon’s artistic dishes, in which the ingredients take centre stage.

Photography by Lisa Linder
Food Styling by Frankie Unsworth

Conjuring edible aesthetics on the plate is all well and good, but the chefs who garner most respect marry artistry with a profound understanding of ingredients: what to cook with what, and particularly when. This quest to draw from the best seasonal larder lies at the heart of Edward Voon’s contemporary take on classic French cuisine. The Singaporean’s love of seafood – particularly lobster, which he might dust with gold – deepened during years of training in France and Spain. “I remember a real taste of the ocean, particularly in the ‘little sea creatures’ [whelks and small shellfish] we could get fresh in France,” says the man at the helm of the new Le Pan restaurant in Hong Kong, where two of his favourite aquatic imports – Brittany lobster and Japanese sea urchin – star in winter. The names of Voon’s dishes, which he first sketches, then refines in his custom-made kitchen (also imported from France), often only hint at the components within. “I hope that creating a little mystery around a dish brings curiosity – an important part of keeping dining exciting.”

BLACK MAGIC

Dish: Marine
Ingredients: Octopus (pictured) and sliced onions are at the core of a piquant paste used either to fill ravioli or as a table spread for bread. Both ingredients are chargrilled until partially blackened. After the blackened areas are peeled off, they are stewed with smoked chipotle to create a chutney-like consistency.

LIFTING THE LID

Dish: Pickle
Ingredients: European and Japanese seaweed (pictured) meets baby fennel and carrots, red pepper, shallots, garlic cloves and plenty of fresh herb leaves in a sweetened vinegar pickle solution. Components vary according to season, and are chosen for their crunch and flavour. The raw ingredients are then sealed in a glass jar that harks back to the days of homemade preserves.

MIDAS TOUCH

Dish: Gold
Ingredients: Lobster, edible flowers (both pictured), and fresh herbs are plated
atop a ‘golden broth’, which has dry shiitake mushroom as its base. Gold dust (also pictured) is sprinkled into the broth as a final touch to bring iridescence. The lobster is boiled simply, in a pot of plain water. The stars of this Voon signature dish are the natural flavours of its few ingredients.

PECKING ORDER

Dish: Holy
Ingredients: A half-roasted wood pigeon (pictured) is smoked with hay (also pictured) – a modern method popular with chefs from Heston Blumenthal in Britain to René Redzepi of Noma in Denmark – in a cocotte casserole pan. Voon intersperses his hay with lengths of rosemary, while tossing whole garlic and tubers, such as yellow and red baby beetroots and potatoes, into the mix.

Le Pan restaurant in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, is executive chef Edward Voon’s second venture in China – he launched Le Pan in Tianjin in 2011 (lepan.com.hk)

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)

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