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Where globetrotting foodie couples dine

Victoria Lim 14 February 2017
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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we caught up with five F&B couples on the restaurants they love visiting when abroad.

Daniel Sia, culinary director of The Lo & Behold Group
Jill Sara, publicist of Jill Sara PR
They met in their late thirties, while they were on the job – she was the publicist for his then restaurant, The Disgruntled Chef. It was while Sia was cooking and Sara was talking, that feelings developed over time and they got married in 2015.

They recommend: Russ & Daughters Café in New York City

Smoked Whitefish Chowder with Matzo
Jill Sara and Daniel Sia

It’s special because we planned this epic honeymoon 10,000 miles away about a year after our wedding. It was Daniel's first time to New York and I hadn't been back for a few years. What we liked were the servers at Russ & Daughters Café, who were dressed in white lab jackets; the backlit signs and jars that contain sardines and dried fruit were a nod to its roots – the restaurant was established since 1914, while the café was opened in 2014. An interesting dish we had was the Schmaltz & A Shot – this is probably their strongest tasting herring cured in oil and served with a shot of vodka. Equally good were the Smoked Whitefish Chowder with Matzo and The Classic Board with Gaspe Nova smoked salmon, cream cheese and shissel rye bagel, which were perfect for that rainy lunch date. Daniel is especially fond of this place as he feels that it has so much soul and life; the staff really cares about the quality of the food and the guests like a close family member would. 127 Orchard Street, New York. Tel: +1 212 475 4880.    

Konstantino Blokbergen, founder of Gastro-Sense Pte Ltd
Bing Blokbergen-Leow, director of Gastro Sense Pte Ltd

They first locked eyes in 2005 – he was in charge of the F&B department at one of the landmark hotels in Singapore, and she was representing her company as a partner of the hotel for a culinary project – and the rest is history.

They recommend: Pie in the Sky in Melbourne

Korma Chicken Pie

Each time we go to Victoria, we would stay at a bed and breakfast at the summit of Mount Dandenong. We love the drive up there, especially visiting the quaint townships along the way. At Olinda, there is a wonderful pie shop, aptly named Pie in the Sky – it’s a casual restaurant specialising in award-winning pies. Available in both classic Aussie meat pie flavours and more creative ones such as beef rendang, beef Burgundy, beef Guinness and korma chicken, these pies are delicious and comforting. Each time we are there, we’ll bring back large amounts of pies to share with family and friends. There was once when we brought back 112 pies. 43 Olinda, Monbulk Road. Tel: +61 9 9751 2128.

Rishi Naleendra, head chef of Cheek by Jowl
Manuela Toniolo, general manager of Cheek by Jowl

Naleendra and Toniolo met when they were co-workers at a Greek family restaurant in Melbourne. It was from there that they progressed from being friends to now being the power couple helming the popular modern Australian restaurant, Cheek by Jowl on Boon Tat Street. 

Rishi Naleendra and Manuela Toniolo

They recommend: Nahm in Bangkok
Nahm is our favourite overseas restaurant and we love to visit it whenever are in Bangkok. Opened by David Thompson, who is also Australian, we feel that we can relate to his cooking. We love the intense and bold flavours in his food and the fact that each dish highlights the fresh produce he uses. Nahm also promotes communal dining – something that we really enjoy. It has a great atmosphere for relaxing and engaging in good conversation with friends over very tasty food and drinks. Plus, it is relatively close to Singapore so it’s possible to plan a weekend getaway to Bangkok and visit Nahm for a great meal. 27 S Sathorn Road. Khwaeng Thung Maha Mek, Khet Sathon. Tel: +66 2 6253388.

Sam Aisbett, chef-owner of Whitegrass 
Annette Glover, operations manager of Whitegrass

It wasn’t love at first sight for Aisbett and Glover. They weren’t very fond of each other when they first met – Aisbett thought she was rude, and Glover thought he was a weird hippie who drank and partied too much. However, it was after a night of drinking and getting to know one another that they got together. Fast forward many years and they are now happily married and celebrating their 10th anniversary this March.

They also recommend: Nahm in Bangkok

Photo credit: Nahm

Annette and I both love Nahm in Bangkok. It is our favourite restaurant in the world. David Thompson is a legend and we love to support fellow Australian talent. The food at Nahm has such intense flavours, and at the same time, is balanced and super tasty. It is not pretentious and you can enjoy fine food that you share alongside amazing cocktails. We could go there five days a week and have something different, but always delicious. 27 S Sathorn Road. Khwaeng Thung Maha Mek, Khet Sathon. Tel: +66 2 6253388.

Emmanuel Stroobant, chef de cuisine of Saint Pierre
Edina Hong, marketing communications director of Emmanuel Stroobant Group

It all started with a bet between Hong’s roommate and her – that Hong wouldn’t be able to date Stroobant, and the loser would have to do a week’s worth of housework. From there, it evolved to a relationship, and Stroobant proposed to Hong in 1999 before they moved over from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. 

Emmanuel Stroobant and Edina Hong

They recommend: Timgad in Paris
Both of us love couscous and it is hard to find a good restaurant that specialises in couscous. Moroccan restaurant Timgad serves a wide selection of couscous. My favourite is lamb chop and couscous merguez, and Emmanuel would usually go for the couscous royale which contains chicken despite the fact that he is vegetarian.  21 Rue Brunel. Tel: +33 1 4574 2370. 

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