I’ve had a pre-opening peek into the towering Shangri La on Palace Road. The façade is still getting finishing touches and inside it’s all vast and opulent. What really had me gasping in wonder though was the hotel’s central kitchen. It’s a marvel of planning, design, top class fittings and equipment. Naturally, Executive Chef Antonio Tardi and his team are proud to show it off and that’s exactly what they did.
I’ve seen some modern restaurant kitchens, but nothing quite like this. The flow of supplies and food has been carefully mapped. Raw and cooked foods are kept well apart, to cut down any chance of contamination. The floors are gleaming white, the fittings all high grade stainless steel. Even the garbage room is spotless and they have ideal recycling systems in place, including composting on the premises.
The hotel has a food safety management expert and he wields a glow torch to randomly check bacteria counts on the hands of kitchen staff. Training vendors and suppliers on maintaining hygiene standards is also part of his responsibility.
The store rooms are a delight, with smooth, sliding doors to close off shelves. An Indian spice room has stainless steel grinders for making fresh dry and wet masalas and cool cabinets for storing these.
It’s a kitchen good enough to eat in, and that’s what we did. Chef Antonio conducted a short, fun class on pasta-making in the pastry kitchen and we hung about there, nibbling on pass-arounds. There was bruschetta on crisp toasted rustic bread, mini pita pockets filled with shrimp, served with hummous, sous-vide cooked chicken and fresh pasta with mushrooms.
For dessert, we trooped off to the ice-cream and chocolate room. The pastry chef told me he had to do very little, except make the crème anglaise, because the fabulous – and intelligent – ice-cream maker does all the work. It’s a Carpigiani, widely recognized as one of the world’s best ice-cream machines and makes the smoothest, creamiest gelato in just 10 minutes. A smaller machine from the same brand makes the perfect whipped cream and I had a swirl to crown my fresh mango ice cream.
B Cafe is the hotel’s all-day diner and is also packed with the coolest gadgets and fittings. The chef de cuisine ran his hands along a cooking station, saying, ‘Working on this, is the chef’s equivalent of driving a BMW.’
Shangri La will have some 9 F&B outlets, offering everything from global tapas to Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Mediterranean. With the food coming from those kitchens, I’m expecting it to be something special.