Speaking with us from their handsome restaurant Blackwattle, Chef Wells and Chef Joeri open up about kitchen horror stories, what their last meals would be, and what it means to open up their very first restaurant in Singapore.
Chef Wells shuffles between Singapore and Australia while Chef Joeri you’re permanently stationed in Singapore. How would you say your chemistry with one another is like?
W: Well I wouldn’t be have Joeri down here working with me if our chemistry isn’t good! We worked closely together since September 2015 at Automata, and prior to that we worked together at Momofuku.
J: It’s come to a point where Clayton says “I need a thingy!” and I go “Here’s a spatula, chef!” (laughs) It all works.
What were your proudest moments as a chef?
J: I’d say opening Automata with Clayton was my moment and having Blackwattle – doing what we’ve always wanted to do and cooking what we want to eat, and being so well-received.
W: It is a really good feeling, doing something we love. People come to me and say “I can’t believe you opened a restaurant in another country!” and it never really hit me until I stop to think about it, and it’s like: “That’s pretty cool!”
If you could give a personality/personalities to the dishes served at Blackwattle, how would you describe them?
W: If there was someone with a split personality, that might be it! (laughs)
J: I would say like James Morrison.
If you could have a last meal, what would it be?
W: Good sushi -some really good sushi from Sushi Ya in Ginza, Tokyo.
J: Mine would be a good warm bowl of ramen; the one from Afuri in Tokyo – their Yuzu Ramen is the way to go. And a light last meal, too! (laughs)
What’s your favourite kitchen tool & why?
J: This may sound cheesy, but a good sharp knife makes a big difference.
W: A good blender. It’s the best tool, in my opinion. It’s just a necessity in the kitchen.
Chef Wells & Chef Joeri
The one ingredient you must have in your pantry is…?
J: It’s Tamari (editor’s note: naturally fermented soy sauce) for me.
W: Konbu. I have a thing for seaweed – everyone knows this. It’s even in my desserts!
What’s the one dish you crave for during days when you don’t feel like cooking?
J: Char kuey teow. I love char kuey teow.
W: I’m all for a good ol’ roasted chicken sandwich.
Any kitchen horror stories to share?
J: Ahh, yes – it’s all unicorns and rainbows in the kitchen. (laughs) There was once a chef who sliced his finger in half in a slicer, and he just taped it up and continued his duties. Never went to the hospital!
W: There was this guy in London who had burnt himself so badly, his skin just peeled off completely… are you sure you want to hear more? Kitchen horror stories are horrific.
What’s the best city or country for food?
J & W: We can both answer this: Tokyo, Japan. (laughs)
What’s the one restaurant you would go back to again and again?
J: If we’re talking about Singapore it would be at Burnt Ends; if comparing on a global scale, I’d say Septime in Paris, France.
W: Totally agree with Burnt Ends in Singapore (I was just there last night)! If worldwide, hands down I’d return to Ester Restaurant in Sydney. It’s really near Automata and every time I go there, I swear it just gets better, and better, and better.
How do you like your eggs cooked?
W: Scrambled, with curry powder.
J: (laughs) I knew you were going to say that! I like mine as an omelette.
What do you think the next food trend in Singapore would be?
J: I think everyone just tries to do their own thing. There are no ‘food trends’ per se.
W: I don’t think about food trends. Food trends have a shelf life, so we don’t follow them because much like all ‘trends’, it dies. If anything, I believe that things will go back to classic French cooking.
We were floored by how minimalistic yet flavourful the dishes at Blackwattle were: from decadent Grilled Black Angus Short Rib to an immaculate plate of Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes, be sure to check out what these lads whip up every week with their ever-evolving menu!
Find it at 97 Amoy Street, Singapore 069917
Book a table at Blackwattle and earn 2X Chope-Dollars with code TASTYBLOG.