Master of Smoke & Fire
November 17, 2018
HE’S just turned 27 but already, Chef Jake Kellie has spent 12 years in the kitchen, chalking up an impressive list of accolades, including winning Australian Young Chef of the Year and San Pellegrino Young Chef Southeast Asia Regional Final in Singapore in October 2017. And although he did not win at the finals in Milan on May 13, 2018, he was among the top three.
Met at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape in November 2018, Jake was his usual cool self, dressed in a black, short-sleeved Burnt Ends tee-shirt that exposed off his tattooed arms brilliantly. Hair slicked back, he looked more like the boy-next-door than Master of Smoke & Fire.
The head chef of Burnt Ends for the past two years says working in Singapore is very different from working in his home State of New South Wales in Australia. “People in Singapore love their work and that sends me great vibes. They also love to eat,” he says.
Actually, it was the Aussie passion for barbecues that ignited the culinary fire in young Jake. His dad used to cook a lot; surprisingly, his mum didn’t. Jake loves exploring with smoke, fire and coal. “Grilling gives so much more (and better) flavour to food than panfrying,” he says. “At Burnt Ends, our ovens and grills at Burnt Ends are fired by coal, apple wood and almond wood.”
Oh yes, the dish that won him the San Pellegrino Young Chef (Southeast Asia) title was Roasted Aged Pigeon. He says: “I love pigeon. And I wanted to use native Australian ingredients to reflect my roots. First, the pigeon is dry-aged for eight days in native Tasmanian pepper leaves and strawberry gum, and then roasted. The compote is made of aboriginal riberry from Queensland and it’s combined with blackberry and finished with finger limes to give a sweet and sour flavour; on the side, there are a roasted pigeon leg, salt-baked beetroot and a parfait tartlet made with the pigeon liver. There’s also smoked pigeon broth in a glass laced with an eight-year-old fortified wine.”
It’s basically a beak to tail dish as Jake believes in zero waste. “We don’t want to waste anything, so we try and utilise every bit of an animal,” he explains.
Finally, who would Jake love to cook for? He ponders just a brief couple of seconds and replies: “Francis Mallmanm. He’s like the Godfather of Cooking Over Fire.” Wikipedia describes Mallmann as a celebrity chef, author and restaurateur who specialises in Argentinean cuisine, especially Patagonian cuisine, with a focus on various methods of barbecuing food.
At the 2018 Margaret River Gourmet Escape, Jake stoked the flames at a whole beast barbecue feast for Feast In The Forest at Safari Club, a wooden barn surrounded by soaring jarrah and karri trees in Leeuwin Estate. With him were chefs Jerry Mai (Annam, Melbourne) who prepared a whole hog feast and Jeremy Chan (Ikoyi, London), famed for using African ingredients in his dishes.
If you missed the Margaret River Gourmet Escape this year, you’ll find Jake Kellie at Burnt Ends in Singapore. (Reservations required).
The restaurant, which offers Aussie-style barbecue dining on a casual note, was placed at No. 12 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. It is particularly renowned for its open-concept kitchen with grills and oven fired by coal, apple and almond wood.
Held on November 16-18, 2018, the annual event attracted foodies and industry folks from not only Western Australia (WA) but also the rest of the country and globally including. With the more than positive response, the organisers are now looking to expand the event next year with a 10-day programme and two additional locations: Swan River and Perth.
Burnt Ends (non-halal)20, Teck Lim Road
Telephone: +65-6224 3933.