ToTT's Showcase of Best Brunch Ever Cookbook and Launch of e-Commerce Shop

Prior to fitting out my home, I'd been content with Ikea's very affordable kitchenware. Until a couple of my mates told me about ToTT at Sime Darby Centre. It's the sister outfit to Sia Huat which supplies kitchenware to the hotels and restaurants. I initially had reservations about ToTT because it'd looked quite upmarket, but it all changed after we went down one Sunday, and went nuts in the store like sugar-deprived kids in Candylicious. Although their dinnerware is considerably nicer than Ikea's, it's actually cheaper than at Ikea! Basically, shopping at ToTT is like shopping at Williams Sonoma but at Ikea-ish prices. A damn good find, all thanks to S and J, if there ever was one.

And now that ToTT has launched its online e-commerce site, shopping has never been easier. Or more addictive. Especially now that the streets are a tangled mess of holiday shoppers, shopping online in the comfort of your home, away from the holiday horde, is a damn fine idea. Oh this note, all of my friends can expect presents this year from online retailers. I'd already gotten the Hubs' board shorts from the notable local multi-boutique e-shop Zalora (they really carry the most extensive range of brands here!).

In case you think that ToTT is only good for stocking up on kitchenware, it also runs cooking classes, and a bistro as well. It's basically a one-stop shop for any budding home chef wannabe, where you fit out your kitchen, pick up cooking tips and fuel up as well.

ToTT's also launched a cookbook as well, a collaboration with some pretty esteemed chefs, to commemorate their 3rd anniversary. I was invited to a showcase of some of the recipes in the cookbook, a dizzying display of the chefs' mad skills, in a foreign kitchen no less, and their interpretation on brunch classics. 

First up at the showcase was a Spaghetti Piccanti by Chef Antonio Facchinetti, the soft-spoken chef de cuisine of one of my favourite Italian restaurants in town, Prego. The pasta reminds me very much of aglio olio, with salty anchovies and fresh bouncy squid sprucing up the simple flavoursome classic.   

This recipe is the one I'm most eager to try my hand. Like most Italian dishes, the recipe is straightforward, non-fussy and uncomplicated. Just really fresh and good ingredients. Akan datang for my re-creation!

Next up was the Eggs a la Coq, by the revered chef Nicolas Joanny of the eponymous Nicolas Le Restaurant at the Keong Siak conservation area. I'd been to his restaurant years ago and had the most amazing food there, and true to form, his brunch dish of eggs baked eggs with a prawn crisp thingy didn't disappoint. It may look unimpressively simple, but OMG, this totally blew me away with how precise and exquisite it was. But, the recipe is totally intimidating. Like, wth is fleur de sel?! I had to google the term. (it's a type of salt, btw)

The recipe of baked eggs, with the chef evidently drawing inspiration from his childhood in Africa, employs French techniques on traditional African ingredients.

Love the gorgeous egg cup, it's a little frivolous but will make a great gift for Christmas. 

The big surprise of the showcase was the Cornbread Wedges with Bacon Jam, by the entertainingly affable chef Dan Segall, the group executive chef of The Big Idea, the group behind restaurants such as Fat Cow, Kinki and Bedrock. I would never think to put bacon in a jam but this totally works. It balances the salty and sweet and savoury and smoky so well, and while the cornbread wasn't super moist, it does set up the jam beautifully. 

I'm gonna shortcut this by getting Kenny Rogers' corn muffins and pairing them with the bacon jam here. The recipe may look tedious, with a cooking time of more than an hour, but it's actually quite simple. It just needs oodles of TLC to ensure the bottom of the pot doesn't get burned.

The last dish of the day was the Banh Cuon, Vietnamese steamed rice rolls with a minced pork filling, by Chi Quang Trinh, sous chef of Addictions Cafe and Remedy Bar. This was pretty good, hearty but light.

The poor chef wasn't quite used to the ToTT kitchen and couldn't quite get the rice rolls right. They were either too thick or broke apart easily. I think I'm gonna learn from him and get those ready-made rice rolls from the supermarket instead. Much easier, methinks.

The chefs from left to right: Nicolas, Dan, Chi and Antonio. I had the most fun talking to Dan, as his American accent was the most easily decipherable. Turns out his brother is a lawyer too, guess he got the family's chatterbug genes!

The cookbook, Best Brunch Ever - Delicious Morning Recipes, is available at ToTT at $12.90.

Thanks to Nicholas and Jael of FoodNews PR for the invite!

ToTT 'Tools of The Trade'
896 Dunearn Road
Sime Darby Centre
Tel: 6219 7077
Store opens Weekdays from 11am to 9pm; Weekends from 10am to 9pm
Bistro opens Weekdays from 10.30am to 9pm; Weekends from 9.30am to 9pm
Website: www.tottstore.com

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