Nestled in the captivating coastal beauty of One&Only Desaru Coast, Ember Beach Club recently welcomed the newly appointed Chef de Cuisine, Chef Bianca Palmer who hails all the way from Australia. With just three months in on the clock, Chef Bianca has already gone headfirst into a taste adventure – one that centers around her profound appreciation for the land’s beautiful bounty harnessing the flavours of local produce at their peak.
What sets this gem of a coastal restaurant apart is not just its beautiful backdrop or the dining experience, but their commitment to using the freshest ingredients, quite literally from their own backyard. Nestled in their vibrant garden, aromatic herbs like pegaga, pandan, betel leaf, local spinach, laksa leaf, and kaffir lime flourish under the sun.
With Chef Palmer at the helm of kitchen operations, Ember Beach Club’s menu has transformed, boasting 13 new dishes that beckon to be savoured, accompanied by delectable sides and four fresh desserts. Her culinary philosophy is a tapestry of local, sustainable, and farm-fresh ingredients meticulously woven into dishes that not only satisfy the palate but also tell a captivating story of the region’s abundant produce.
Chef Bianca Palmer orchestrates the daily symphony in the kitchen, leading her culinary team with finesse and dedication. Yet, the magic doesn’t stop there; she collaborates closely with Michelin-starred Chef Andrew Walsh to craft menus that transcend the ordinary, turning dining into an artful experience.
In this interview, Chef Bianca reveals the secrets behind her culinary inspirations, shares some of her signature recipes, and unveils her unwavering passion for sourcing and elevating local, sustainable produce.
Table Talk with Chef Bianca, Ember Beach Club
Where and how did you get started in hospitality?
I started my career in the Hunter Valley wine region of New South Wales, Australia. I have always had a passion for cooking and exploring new ingredients from a young age. Living in this area was a great start for my career as I had the opportunity to be exposed to seriously great restaurants and world-class wineries.
What do you like most about your job and what did you least anticipate?
I absolutely love being a Chef from the day I began working as one. The largest yes for me is being able to be creative and being a part of a team. I thrive in a kitchen environment, it honestly feels like a second home to me and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I was unable to cook or create. It’s my thing!
I least anticipated the demands of time and never having enough of it, the uncertainty of order pacing and the need to protect tight profit margins. But these are all part of the role and what keeps all of us chefs stimulated. You always have to be on your game and ready for a curve ball.
How would you describe your job?
My position at Ember Beach Club is exciting and rewarding in its own ways. One&Only is a great brand and company to work with as we source the best products and produce for our clientele.
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For those that haven’t visited, tell us a bit more about Ember Beach Club in your own words?
Conceptualised by the Singapore-based Michelin-starred Chef Andrew Walsh, Ember Beach Club is defined by woodfire cooking with contemporary methods using fresh local produce. We greet guests with a warm welcome, and no request is ever too big or small. We want to create a casual, relaxed environment that’s fit for every age and people from all around the world.
Can you tell us more about the stories behind one of your dishes on the menu?
Ember’s Cassava Cake
- 900g fresh tapioca
- 200g sugar
- 400g coconut milk
- 80g butter
- 3 eggs
- Peel, wash and grate the tapioca.
- Weigh out the remaining ingredients.
- Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Line a medium-sized baking tray and pour in the mixture.
- Bake at 170 degrees Celsius (full heat) for 40 minutes.
- Once the cassava cake turns golden on top, remove from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool fully before serving.
Sweet and sour prawn toast, pickled cucumbers, salted egg yolk
This dish resonates with me as I’ve always done a different version of prawn toast in each venue I work. I got my inspiration from my local Chinese take away in Australia, and have always been a sucker for a prawn toast dish. I love the flavours and textures in the dish — the pickle from the cucumbers and the saltiness from the egg yolk! It’s a must try on the menu at Ember Beach Club.
What’s it like being a female chef in a male-dominated industry?
I approach my role without gender distinctions. While the culinary industry is challenging, my passion sustains me. The utmost respect I hold for the culinary field is unwavering.
Where do you like to eat or drink on your day off?
I’m here to learn what Malaysia is all about, and have found myself eating local wherever possible. Besides that, I travel to Singapore often to try hawker food. Eating at Chef Andrew Walsh’s restaurants in Singapore is also a must!