Last month I received an inquiry from a young man about cheffing a dinner party for his dad’s retirement. The first criteria for landing this contract was my ability to recreate Singapore Chilli Crab. His dad had traveled to Singapore for business, eaten Singapore’s signature dish, and returned home raving about the crab. It was extremely important to the family that they surprise the guest of honor with this dish as a first course of his Retirement Dinner. I very honestly told this potential client that I had neither eaten nor prepared Singapore Chilli Crab before, but that I would do my research and felt confident that I could prepare this dish for the dinner party.
They hired me for the job, and I set out to do my research. I posted queries on all my online chef forums, and scoured the internet for information on Singapore Chilli Crab. I played around with sauces and ordered 13 gigantic Dungeness Crabs from Groomer’s Seafood.
A very rich, lavish menu was developed based on their favorite foods. The menu would be a complete surprise for the guest of honor.
We arrived at the client’s home last night, quickly unloaded the car, unpacked groceries and got to work in the kitchen. I was full of nervous anticipation about the crab. The guest of honor remained uninformed about the menu, until we unveiled 13 Dungeness Crabs and he started smelling the sauce.
As guests arrived, they nibbled on beautiful Charcuterie Platters that my assistant Renee composed.
Guests were invited to be seated at their tables and the big moment arrived: Singapore Chilli Crab was plated and delivered.
The guest of honor was very excited. He described his experience in Singapore to the guests and gave them a brief overview on the “protocol” for eating the crab. Crab bibs were donned and the guests set about extracting the meat from their crab halves. The crab received rave reviews and when the guest of honor told me that I had successfully recreated the dish, and he was momentarily transported back to his time in Singapore, I returned to the kitchen and did a little happy dance. 😉 Warm hand towels that had been soaked in lemon water were distributed, crab remains were removed, and we moved on to the easier-to-eat menu items.
As the main course was served and I circulated among the tables to check on guests, I told everyone to leave room for the trio of desserts and port still to come!
There was certainly not a hungry guest who left this dinner party.
Cheffing a dinner party for 24 adults, and two really cute, well-behaved small children is exhausting and exhilarating. I returned home to unload all my supplies with a feeling of great satisfaction, and slept really well last night.