Violinist Lynnette Seah, recipient of the Cultural Medallion for Music, hosts special private dinners at her home – for friends and extended circle of friends’ friends – about twice a month. These dinner parties are organised at her cosy Tiong Bahru apartment for about eight to 12 diners. Along with a group of food-loving guests, we had the chance to experience the exquisite nine-course home-cooked dinner meticulously prepared from scratch by the avid cook and acclaimed concertmaster.
How it began
“I started Lynnette’s Kitchen at the beginning of 2015, and invited friends to my home for private dining. Cooking for friends, old and new, helps me de-stress from performing as I enjoy hosting dinners and watching everyone enjoy my labour of love – creations of healthy and tasty food,” said Seah. “Every dinner is special for me as I get to meet new interesting friends and try the wines they bring,” she shared, adding that music and cooking dinner parties are her passions in life.
“My forte is Peranakan and local cuisine although I’m also good at Western dishes like roast beef and pumpkin soup. My special dishes are beef rendang, baked assam snapper with honey pineapple, and buah keluak fried mixed brown rice with my own hae bee hiam. I also created my own char siew which my friends enjoy very much,” added Seah.
Dr Loh May Han, who went for this dinner with her husband Dr Adrian Ng, said that the whole experience was special because it is an exclusive “well-kept secret” dining venue that is not open to all – only by personal invitation or introduction from friends.” She added, “The setting allows for closer interaction especially when dining with close friends or family. Obviously, having the exclusive use of the whole dining location is a definite plus point in my book!”
Andre Huber, executive director of Huber’s echoed that comment. “I thought the dinner was special because it felt so comfortable as if I was dining in my own home. You could smell the different dishes as they were being cooked. Of course it helps when you are dining with good friends.” He added, “The Peranakan food was excellent and it was like tasty comfort food for me. The menu was comprehensive although eight courses was too much for me as a lot of the dishes were quite rich. Plus you could take as much as you wanted as compared to a restaurant where they would control the portion sizes.”
Marilyn Lum, director of Lum Wen Kay Holdings, who was dining at Seah’s home for the first time said that the experience was definitely unique. Lum’s husband Shaun Tay felt that Lynnette’s interpretation of Peranakan dishes was authentic and really highlighted the unique ingredients, flavours and textures.“It was authentic, tasty and cooked with passion.”
Huber felt that all the dishes were delicious but if he had to pick, the squid and the sayur lodeh were his personal favourites. Tay enjoyed the Peranakan chilli crab as “the gravy had impeccable balance”. For him, the dish was robust and rich, and complemented the golden man tou well. Lum’s favourite dish was the buah keluak rice, as “the generous portion of homemade hae bee hiam made the dish extra fragrant and tasty”.
Loh liked the grilled squid with mixed mushrooms and onion.“I have a weakness for cuttlefish, squid, and the like – I am a real sotong connoisseur! To me, the squid had several elements that made it stand out amongst the rest – though it was Peranakan at its core, it also combined influences from the Japanese (by stuffing squid with mixed mushrooms and onions), and the European (with the added truffle oil and earthy mushrooms components). The squid was cooked to perfection – not too raw, and not rubbery from overcooking. It had a satisfying bite and multi-layered flavours,” she enthused.
“Lynnette’s food gave us further insights into her passion for cooking; her efforts to source for the freshest ingredients, authentic spices, best cuts of meats for any particular dish – all these point to a chef striving for immaculate perfection,” said Loh. “Will I do it again? You bet! I really can’t wait to try her western and seafood creations. Lynnette, can I be your guinea pig?”
Photos courtesy: Loh May Han and Adrian Ng