Whisky aficionado and cooking buff Christoph Nyfeler’s two passions often go hand in hand – although not always with the desired results.
One of his earliest attempts to cook with whisky, says the 30-year- old founding partner of Whisky World, resulted in a beef ragout that “smelled like an ashtray”.
Laughing at the memory, Nyfeler explains: “I chose the wrong whisky. I used an Isle of Islay, which is a smoky, peaty whisky. Back then, I didn’t know that the smokiness and peatiness would destroy every other flavour in the meat. I tasted it before I threw it away – it tasted like an ashtray too.”
Started in 2011 in partnership with Swiss company World of Whisky, Whisky World focuses on importing fine whiskies, including rare Scotch single malts and special editions. Aside from running an online store, the company provides expert consultancy services to the World of Whisky bar at the Movenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa, and organises whisky- appreciation events.
The last include private dinners with food and whisky pairings – giving the former banker even more reason to improve his culinary skills.
He works closely with chefs on whisky-pairing menus that feature dishes ranging from those within his comfort zone (Swiss, French and Italian) to Asian fare. At home, he cooks for himself and his fiancee, or when he has friends over for dinner parties.
Being in Singapore, says Nyfeler, has led him to experiment more with Asian flavours – for example, he likes adding whisky to laksa soup for “a nice and different touch”. However, his sure-fire culinary winners hearken back to his European roots, with his specialities including marinated lamb racks with honey- mustard whisky sauce, as well as beef fillet wrapped in pata negra (Iberian ham) or parma ham.
Despite his partiality towards the alcoholic beverage, Nyfeler is quick to point out that whisky does not always make an appearance in his food. Elaborating on the parties he enjoys throwing, he says with a smile: “Sometimes, we just open a good bottle of wine and have a normal dinner – with nothing infused.”