“I love the ones that really showcase the season,” says Adrift’s David Myers of some of his favourite dishes from the restaurant’s newly launched menu — gazpacho with burrata and a dessert of in-season stone fruits flown in from California. “Whenever we can use products like that in a dish and it’s the star, we’re really happy.”
Besides flying into Singapore from his base in Los Angeles about once a month, the anchor at Adrift at Marina Bay Sands is keeping himself busy with a new establishment he’s setting up in Dubai, featuring a French grill concept and Roman-style dining with Neapolitan-style pizza — the type of things that are right up his alley, he says. So before he jets off again, we catch up with Myers for a quick chat about food memories, travel plans and his Achilles heel.
What was the first dish you cooked before you became a chef?
(At 18) I was playing around with this whole roasted chicken but in a bag, it was the precursor to sous vide cooking. We didn’t have sous vide cooking back then, at least in the US, and so I read this article about how to cook a chicken in a bag with white wine, carrots, celery, onion, thyme and crushed garlic, and you tie it up really tight so no air can escape. What it does is it steams it but it also gets crispy as well, and you cook at a lower temperature, so it was my first foray into modern cooking techniques.
That dish was so perfect, I remember the flavour today and I kept saying at the time, My god this is such a great, perfect chicken. It got my palate primed for really light cooking — light, delicate but the flavours still pop — that’s the type of food I like.
Why do you remember that chicken dish so fondly?
It was one of those moments, like a breakthrough moment, just the same as when I cooked the perfect egg. It was sunny side up and the top of it was still perfect and it didn’t crack, that was a great moment for me — I was 6, I loved that moment. My family had two dozen eggs and I went through every one of them to get that perfect egg.
Did your family say anything about the other eggs that didn’t make the cut?
No, they didn’t mind as long as I didn’t waste it, so I ate them all. I ate everything.
Where do you plan to travel to next for food inspiration?
I’m looking forward to getting to Spain in the late summer and exploring some of the grilling concepts they have and how they do it all with the wood fires. I love that style of cooking.
What does food you cook for yourself look like?
It’s just as simple as possible. It should be beautiful but simple and pure, and if you have great ingredients done well and you’ve added your own touch to it — and that touch for me is always a different sort of acid or spice — then I think the dish stands for itself.
What’s comfort food for you?
Pasta. I love to have a great bowl of pasta any time of day or night, especially at night with a glass of wine. I do one of two ways that is kind of my go-to. One would be just simple butter with garlic, parsley and chilli flakes — can’t beat it. The other one I love is having a little tomato sauce and some sausage and mushrooms go into it. And parmesan, tons of parmesan on both. I also love steak and grilling out. Grilling at night is very meditative for me, so when I’m back in Los Angeles, even if it’s 1–2am, I’m firing up the charcoal grill — actual charcoal, not gas — and I’ll have a glass of wine, and that’s a bit of comfort and heaven for me.
Any guilty pleasure food?
Gummy bears, I love gummy bears, you have to keep them away from me. I walk by in stores and (demonstrates with both hands shielding his face from one side) I don’t even look, I just try to keep going. I don’t like the white ones (the pineapple flavoured ones) as much, but I like all the flavours, I eat them all. The New York Times had an amazing piece on gummy bears: You start with one and then all of a sudden it becomes three, and before you know it you’re getting to the end of the bag and you’re (shoving) fistfulls of them into your mouth at once. And I’m like, “Spot on, that’s exactly right.” That’s maybe for more advanced gummy bear eaters, but yeah they’re addictive.
List three food items that are always in your fridge.
Lemon, Tabasco and eggs. You can always whip up a fantastic dish out of eggs. You can make a beautiful omelette, whatever, it’s a great go-to item at all times, and relatively healthy as well, and it’s a perfect protein. Tabasco is a great acid and chilli to go into dishes to pop them up a bit, whether it’s pasta or pizza or added to soup. And lemon on everything — lemon on grilled steak with olive oil is fantastic, lemon on chicken, lemon on vegetables, in salad, just on and on. You can’t beat lemon. Even a little lemon in your martini — it even extends to cocktails.
What’s your favourite music to play at work?
Marvin Gaye always puts you in the mood. I remember when I lived in Chicago working for chef Charlie Trotter and after work we’d go to a bar and Marvin Gaye would be playing, and you felt the craziness of the night wearing off. It always brings back memories of good cooking times.