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The Story Behind Tatler’s “Status Symbol Turkey”

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Paul Kelly and his Kelly Bronze turkeys

Upper crust British magazine Tatler has included Kelly Bronze turkeys on its list of Christmas status symbols. This coveted breed of bird has been celebrated by top chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Michael Roux JR, so what makes them so tasty?

Kelly Bronze turkeys spend 70 per cent of their time out of doors. It’s a beautiful bright day when Chopstix visited the Essex farm (Kelly Bronze’s are now also bred in the US, in on a farm in Virginia) and the turkeys are scampering through the trees. They have acres of woodland to run around and masses of nettles to snack on. “They love nettles, they eat them like crazy,” says renowned turkey breeder Paul Kelly, second generation owner of Kelly Bronze turkeys.

Until they are 12 weeks old the birds are kept indoors. As we walk towards the large barn an excited chirruping emanates. “You can tell how everything is from the noise,” says Paul, opening the barn doors to reveal hundreds of chicks bobbing about among bales of straw. “No noise is a bad sign. Squawking is a bad sign. You want to hear a nice chirp.”

Another good sign is how the turkeys may vary in weight year to year. “The more naturally you grow the bird, the more it can be affected by the elements,” says Paul. “In a mild autumn the turkeys are lighter, if it’s cold they eat more.”

It’s hard to imagine that in the 1980s the Kelly family farm run by Paul’s parents faced a tricky future despite breeding award winning turkeys. But then in 1990 Delia Smith visited and was so impressed with the turkey she bought there that she referred to it by name in her Christmas book. The business has never looked back.

 

Christmas Countdown: Adorable Baubles

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Mice in teacups Cox & Cox

 

Sledging polar bears, skiing mice, fluffy alpacas…. Cox and Cox has nailed it with the cute animal tree decorations. Here are some of the most adorable to cheer your day. You’re welcome.

 

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Alpaca tree decoration Cox & Cox

 

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Mouse on a swing tree decoration Cox & Cox

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Sledging Polar Bear tree decoration Cox & Cox

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Mice climbing ladder tree decoration Cox & Cox

Ski mouse

Skiing mouse tree decoration Cox & Cox

http://www.coxandcox.com

 

Chopstix Loves…

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Sofia footstool, £595, Soho Home

This delectable velvet footstool by Soho Home reminds us quite fittingly of a pumpkin.

Seen in Soho Houses around the world, the Sofia footstool is now available to buy as part of the House Favourites range:

www.sohohome.com

 

Aman Tokyo’s Spooky Afternoon Tea returns for Halloween

Aman Tokyo halloween tea

Aman Tokyo has again launched its annual Halloween Afternoon Tea in The Lounge. The savouries and sweets include ghost shaped macaroons, bat and witches hat cookies, spider web candy and a chocolate “bomb” with a surprise inside.

Available from now until October 31st 2019, 11.30am – 5pm.

¥4,600 (plus consumption tax and service charge)

For reservations call +81-3-5224-3339 or click here to reserve a table online

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What is it about Les Amis? Now elevated to 3 stars in the Michelin Guide Singapore

For the first time, Singapore gets two Three-MICHELIN-starred restaurants

Les Amis’ Sebastien Lepinoy (left) with Michelin’s Gwendal Poullennec and Julien Royer, Odette

[UPDATE: Les Amis which was awarded two Michelin stars in the inaugural Singapore guide 2016 has tonight been elevated to three stars in the 2019 guide. For the first time Singapore has two three Michelin starred restaurants with Odette also being elevated. Here’s a look at the restaurant with a rich pedigree of talent.]

French born head chef Sebastien Lepinoy and award winning pastry chef Cheryl Koh joined Les Amis in Singapore after sister restaurant Cepage closed in Hong Kong in 2013.  Both restaurants share the same enticing formula of sophisticated food and slick service mixed with an unstuffy atmosphere; a recipe that has made Les Amis as popular with food writers in the region as it is with regular customers.

Lepinoy, who was head chef at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Hong Kong prior to Cepage, and Koh are the latest in a glittering alumni that includes Ignatius Chan owner of renowned restaurant Iggy’s. Les Amis was at the forefront of the French fine dining scene in Singapore when it opened in 1994.

Award winning sommelier Chan and chef Justin Quek, who’d worked his way around several classical French restaurants in France and the UK, were the brains behind the concept. With Chan’s experience, the restaurant became known for fine wines (it still has one of most extensive wine lists in Asia with some 2000 labels) as well as Quek’s cuisine.

Justin Quek

Justin Quek at Sky on 57

“Ignatius and I drove the operation for 10 years,” says Quek who now runs his own restaurant Sky on 57 at Marina Bay Sands where he cleverly combines classic French cooking with a Chinese influence. “We were the first stand-alone fine dining, French restaurant with a great wine list in Singapore.”

Quek says what he gleaned most from his time at Les Amis was wine knowledge and how to pair wine with food. “I tasted a lot of great wines in those ten years,” he says. “I remember the first new year’s eve menu with truffles, caviar and lobster on the menu paired with Krug champagne, Chevalier Montachet by Domaine Leflaive, Chateau Latour, Chateau Yquem…”

Quek became friends with many of the guests who came to the restaurant, often bringing their own rarefied bottles with them, and still returns to dine there with them.

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Iggy’s

Both Chan and Quek left and sold their shares at the end of 2003. Chan set up the now famous Iggy’s while Quek opened a restaurant in Taipei. Following his departure, Gunther Hubrechsen took over as head chef and continued Les Amis’ reputation for exemplary fine French food. After over five years Hubrechsen too left to set up his own establishment, Gunther’s, in Singapore. Gunther’s is another fine dining experience, this time in a converted shophouse, and much loved by business people, tai tais and romantic couples alike.

Gunther's interior

Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2013 & 2014, Janice Wong, worked a 6 month stage under Hubrechsen at Les Amis following her training at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. Wong, who now owns the acclaimed 2am Dessert Bar in Singapore, says: “Working with chef Gunther on the line was my most memorable experience of working at Les Amis. From him I learnt about the balance of flavors and right pairings of different ingredients in each dish.

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Janice Wong

“What I’ve taken with me to the 2am Dessert Bar is the importance of team spirit in the kitchen and that a choice of fresh produce and ingredients is key to a good dish.”

Sebastien Lepinoy’s appointment marks the end of an 18 month search since head chef of nearly four years, Armin Leitgeb, left in May 2012. Under Leitgeb (who has since moved back to Austria and is currently working on a new restaurant project), Les Amis joined the exclusive Le Grandes Table Du Monde. The honour is usually reserved for Michelin star winners but since Les Amis has none as the Michelin Guide does not operate in Singapore [it’s due to launch late 2016] the feat is even more impressive.

Pastry chef Daniel Texter, who previously worked at Noma, left a few months after Leitgeb (to helm Adrian Zumbo’s new bakery in Melbourne). So Leproy has brought over Cepage’s Cheryl Koh, a Singaporean who began her career at Raffles Hotel.

Since joining in September [2013] Lepinoy has put his own stamp on the menu introducing Japanese influences. “In Singapore, Japanese cuisine is well received,” he says. “So I decided to use familiar Japanese ingredients and a lot of my dishes are Japanese-inspired.” These include angel hair pasta with lobster, crispy Sakura ebi and a touch of parmesan; pan seared Hokkaido scallops with teriyaki sauce, pan seared foie gras and French River eel accompanied by citrus fruits and dashi broth; and Daikon veloute with black truffle.

The ethos of the restaurant will remain the same though: “Les Amis means “The Friends” so we exist to create a warm and welcoming environment without the pompous façade that the fine dining image commonly portrays,” say Lepinoy.

Raymond Lim, Les Amis’ spokesman puts the restaurant’s longevity and success down to consistency. “The core experience which we want to deliver is the same – food that is tasty and not cerebral with a pared down, friendly approach to service,” he says.

[A version of this article originally ran in November 2013]

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