Herbs are arranged as ‘mini gardens’ and delicate vegetable curls are placed among fine cuts of meat. But there’s more to fine dining just than just making it look nice, as chef de cuisine Abraham Mannakuzhil explains.
“Plating is something that comes together when we’ve decided on flavour,” he says.
Abraham believes good presentation starts with good food. He sources the best ingredients and cooks them with utter precision before thinking about how to serve them. So when he’s planning menus, he thinks first about the products he’s going to use.
“I talk to our executive chef about the type of products I’m looking for,” he explains. “He’ll check with our suppliers and get back to me with what’s available and the products’ quality.
“We only think about how to make it look interesting once we have the products lined up. Plating is really our last priority.”
That being said Abraham’s handiwork looks incredible when it’s finished. He uses typical plating methods of contrasting colours, flavours and textures to create something that visually communicates with guests.
Abraham’s plates are a modern adaption of a historical tradition. Fine food presentation originated in Europe in the 16th century, when royal family chefs prepared elite dishes in estates like Versailles.
Portion sizes were reduced (as most meals were large banquets with multiple courses) and emphasis was put on complementing flavours. Cooks presented food in the shape of monuments and fountains, taking inspiration from the architecture around them.
Abraham uses similar methods. He bases presentation on paintings and nature, sealing traditional European food culture in Eden’s exquisite French cuisine.
“Our goal is to make it interesting and interactive,” he says, referring to the mint and pea soup. “While guests enjoy mountain views on a hot summer day, I prepare mint and pea ‘snow’ served with a ‘forest’ of herbs, asparagus and preserved shallots and ‘rocks’ of crispy lentils. Guests can mix the soup base with the snow create a delicious chilled mint and pea soup.”
Abraham’s herb flan is another signature design. He places puffed grains on the flan base and arranges marinated heirloom beans and preserved heirloom carrots on the side. Then he ‘plants’ micro cilantro, chervil, dill, radish, watercress and frisée into the base to create a mini herb garden.
Dishes like these feature on all of Eden’s menus, which include two-, three- and four-course table d’hôte menus, a six-course tasting menu and 10-course ‘Grand Dégustation’ menu. Wine pairing is provided by certified sommeliers who choose from the 17,000 bottles on inventory.
The carefully crafted dishes make Eden a unique dining experience, but it’s Abraham’s ‘flavour first’ approach that serves a truly outstanding meal.