Feature: The Accidental Chef
One of the reasons why Droolworthy was started was because of our obsession with good food.
This sometimes healthy/sometimes unhealthy obsession has allowed us to come into contact with like-minded people around the world, many who are just as obsessed about food as we are.
Lee Chong Chee is just such a person. A friend of the Droolworthy team for more than 10 years, Chong Chee (more affectionately known as CC) has always been a foodie but it was only recently that we found out that he was also a “closet chef.”
We noticed that CC started posting photos of things he was cooking at home on Facebook, and the food he was cooking was not your normal “home-cooked” fare.
Premium ingredients were put together in very creative ways and plated beautifully. Naturally, our interest was piqued and when CC told us he started doing a weekly pop-up kitchen with some mates, we had to go check it out.
Every Tuesday (CC’s day off from his regular job), he and three friends – Thor, Matthew and Nean, gather in a small kitchen to cook some truly tantalizing fusion cuisine at the back of a café in the heart of Georgetown called Coffee Affairs.
The kitchen is called Thor’s Affair (Thor is one of the owners of Coffee Affairs) and it is a place where four young men constantly brainstorm and experiment to create new and interesting recipes for their friends and peers to try.
Thor’s Affair has a very hidden-away and secretive feel to it, and you feel like you are one of the few people who knows about a secret place that you can only get access to if you know the correct password. The servers at the front of the café cast you a knowing glance as you make your way to the back and you feel like you are being welcomed into a secret society.
CC welcomed us warmly and brought us a cold platter of ham, sausage and cheese that he picked up on a recent trip to Spain and Portugal.
Believe us when we tell you that was one of the best cold platters we have eaten in a long, long time and you could almost taste the European air in every bite (haha).
Next up we had the Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup (RM15/USD3.60), a hearty broth that surprisingly did not have the normal tartness associated with many tomato dishes.
We even found some truly delicious black heirloom tomatoes in the soup which reaffirmed the common saying amongst chefs and foodies: if you want to make good tasting food, make sure you use good ingredients.
The first main we had was the Sous-Vide Norwegian Salmon (RM38/USD9.20).
The interesting thing about this dish is that the recipe changes constantly so each time you order it, there may be a different sauce and accompaniments.
On the day that we were there, the pickled cabbage was a great contrast to the cream sauce and the flavors bounced off each other perfectly.
The meat of the fish was cooked perfectly but we would have preferred a little bit more sear on the skin to give the taste more texture.
Onto the main main, which was the Cold Brew Beef Steak in Chocolate Brandy Sauce (RM40/USD9.70). When CC told us about this dish the night before dinner we were already imaging how awesome this was going to taste, and he did not disappoint.
Marinated overnight in cold brew coffee, the coffee soaks up any gamey-ness the beef has and leaves you with a beautiful piece of meat with that wonderful coffee aroma.
The chocolate-brandy sauce was a perfect match for the coffee-marinated steak but the real revelation for us was in the sour cream on top of the potato.
The seemingly normal sour cream hid a very subtle taste explosion and when we quizzed CC he told us about the secret ingredient that he added to the cream. CC wasn’t sure if many people would notice it or not but he wanted to add something that would really set the sour cream off, which it did and yes, we noticed.
Like the salmon, we would have preferred our steak with a little more sear, as that is what gives you the “steak” taste in a good steak – sous-vide no doubt is a good cooking method to ensure consistency and done-ness but meat really needs a good sear to make the taste pop.
After dinner was over CC sat down with us to go over the meal, taking in our feedback and no doubt already coming up with new ideas for next week’s cookout.
The concept of Thor’s Affair and the collaboration between four talented mates is a great idea and we highly recommend it to food enthusiasts in Penang.
We wish that more chefs and establishments will put more thought and passion into the food they prepare, just like CC, Thor, Matthew and Nean do.
Thor’s Affair @ Coffee Affairs
21 Jalan Bishop
10200 George Town
Tel: +604-261 4060
Thor’s Affair – SPECIAL MENU ON TUESDAYS
Coffee Affairs – 7 Days a Week
Cold Brew Beef Steak (RM40nett/USD9.70)
Sous-Vide Norwegian Salmon (RM38nett/USD9.20)
Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup (RM15nett/USD3.60)