Today marks the opening of the newest destination in the city: Shangri-la at the Fort. It’s a contemporary lifestyle district composed primarily of five things: a residential building, a recreation club, customized homes, a retail podium, and, of course, a hotel.
Inside the Pastry Kitchen
Two weeks ago, I had the honor to be the first to go on a private tour inside the kitchen of the new and upcoming Shangri-La The Fort. They probably know that the kitchen is my favorite place, in any home, restaurant, or hotel for that matter! 🙂
I was shown around by Lesley Tan, Director of Communications of the hotel. It was fascinating to get to know this new development and to take a peek and see what’s inside and what goes behind the scenes, right even before they opened to the public!
That day, I got to meet almost half of the pastry team, who were busy practicing their recipes and perfecting their bread baking techniques.
After looking around, I met Executive Pastry Chef Anthony Collar inside his “cool” kitchen (and I mean that literally and figuratively — it was really cold inside)! He showed me the many delicious concoctions he had lined up for me that day.
This is the Strawberry Shortcake, which he was baking when I got there. This pillowy soft and light as a feather strawberry cake will be featured in their regular menu.
It was covered in the most delicious Chantilly cream I have ever tasted!
And here was another concoction of Chef Anthony Collar, and one that he was most proud of: all-natural, preservative-free strawberry ice cream (made from fresh strawberries), freshly churned right before my very eyes!
I got to try this as soon as it got out of the machine! This ice cream was luxuriously decadent; it tasted so real, so fresh, very creamy, silky and oh-so smooth. (I don’t think I will ever go back to regular ice cream again after this!)
Then, it was time for me to try the fresh chocolate truffles and pralines that Chef Anthony Collar made. He asked me a try a couple of them and dared me if I can tell what each one was made of. (Of course, this was one game I really enjoyed!)
For some types of chocolates, he even asked me not to use my hands, but to kiss these chocolate lips instead, in order to get a better taste! 😉
Then he showed me more… he said he made these chocolate lipsticks too for me! (One bite and I knew it was made of white chocolate covered in raspberry flavor!)
Chef Anthony was amazed at how I was able to tell him the ingredients of each chocolate that I got to try! Of course, I must say that I have the “natural talent” to identify the kind of chocolate used (milk, white or dark and at what percentage) and what the fillings were (strawberry, raspberry, hazelnut, anise, lavender, rosemary, etc)!
I was spoiled that afternoon as I had not just the first look but the first taste as well of the new Shangri-La The Fort’s pastry kitchen!
While I was enjoying tasting my way around inside the kitchen, no less than Mr. John Rice, the General Manager of the hotel came down from his office to welcome me. He excitedly revealed to me about his overall plans for the hotel and what we can expect from this new gem in the city! We were chatting away as we ate our ice cream and chocolates together and how we both enjoyed the freshness of the ingredients, and how every single dessert prepared that afternoon was just perfect for all of us who were craving for something deliciously sweet!
Right after him, I was then able to meet the Executive Chef of the hotel, Joris Rycken, who also went down to the pastry kitchen to meet me. I asked him about the food and beverage plans of the hotel, such as the many different dining options that they are offering and their unique exciting concepts.
(Here’s a quick rundown on the restaurants : There will be seven dining options inside the hotel: High Street Café with its nine uniquely designed live kitchens, offering a colourful diversity of cuisines; the elegant High Street Lounge and its floor-to-ceiling windows and plush sofas providing some of the city’s most elegant high tea menus; Canton Road will be showcasing its authentic Cantonese and Huaiyang cuisine; Raging Bull Chophouse & Bar will be serving its prime selection of grain and grass-fed dry-aged beef and premium grilled items; the fun and fast-paced grab-and-go spin-off by Raging Bull Burgers will be having its best burgers and milkshakes combo; Samba will be cooking its dishes with inspired flavors from South America, Spain and the Philippines; and Limitless, a lounge and club that will be giving us vast choices of beverages: from barrel-aged to artisanal cocktails, from great whiskey selection to craft beers, complemented with creative bar chow.)
Speaking of drinks, my private tour’s last “stop” was with the Head Mixologist, Ulysse Jouanneaud, who made for me the best strawberry cocktail in the city!
It was the perfect way to end that sumptuous afternoon filled with everything I love: strawberries, chocolates, and, of course, champagne!
That Shangri-La brand of warmth and hospitality
I’ll be honest… I go to a lot of press tours and events, but this has got to be one of my most memorable ones to date. It felt very personal to me — with the specialized menu they prepared for me (that had all my favorites) plus of course, the mere fact that I got to see this new and exciting establishment before it even opened to the public.
I also appreciate the fact that I was able to get to know the dynamic team behind it all and the fascinating and impressive corporate culture they adhere to. When I am invited to press events, it is usually about the new restaurant or the food being offered, but this time they made me see beyond the surface, as they allowed me to see the heart of the hotel too!
Their architects (AECOM and Handel) did a great job integrating the Shangri-La corporate culture in the design of their basement and offices. The office spaces are made to look as fun and as colorful as possible because most of the employees here are young. So you can just imagine that having something as creative as these all around them will surely help in creating a fun and dynamic work environment as well!
The office corridors are infused with a lot of inspirational and motivational works of art.
One can see that there is indeed real effort here to spark creativity and inspiration amongst the employees. This positive work environment will, of course, be the training ground and the second home of the employees so it must be as welcoming and as motivational as possible.
There’s so much buzz about Shangri-La at the Fort and seeing how it operates behind the scenes makes me much more excited for it! There’s so much to absorb and experience, that I know it will take more than one visit to enjoy this entirely new complex.