1) Tan Su-Lyn, @sulyntan
A child’s hand sneaks into the frame to grab freshly baked treats. Tan Su-Lyn rarely sets up such shots, which are taken as they are about to eat. Her mainly iPhone photos of her home-cooked dishes and occasional hawker takeaways are some of the most sleekly styled on Instagram and come with personal anecdotes and cooking tips. Tan is co-founder and CEO of The Ate Group and her other half is Aun Koh aka fine food blogger Chubby Hubby.
Tan’s techniques for clean, spare shots:
• Work with natural light…or find a spot with a diffused light source. My favourite spots at home and in the office to shoot are generally next to a window. And I switch off the lights so that the image is lit purely by daylight.
• Shoot with your camera grid activated. I value negative space and try to ensure that it is well-represented within the frames. I often look at how I can break the rules; for example, creating visual interest by changing the focal point within the frame.
• Shoot what you love. I only snap a picture if inspiration grabs me. And if I don’t love the image I’ve captured, I don’t share it. I only share what’s meaningful to me that I hope will also be meaningful to other people.
Tay’s congratulatory post to @tartebycherylkoh, Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2016.
These mud crabs are destined for the crab cakes her father-in-law adores.
“Whole wheat sugar cookies can be transformed into a short edible craft activity,” she writes of one of three easy make-ahead recipes for busy working mums she shared with @mummyfique.
“A sweet reminder that I do live in a tropical somewhat paradise,” she writes.
2) Lennard Yeong, @lennardy
“Everything I know I learnt from YouTube”, proclaims the Instagram profile of engineer and home cook Lennard Yeong, who shot into our collective cuisine consciousness as a Singapore contestant on MasterChef Asia. Get an eyeful of his cooking, listed under Mi Casa (ignore the geotag that says it’s in Mexico) and eats out, including his June trip to Copenhagen.
Yeong’s advice for great shots:
• Do not be afraid of yellow light. This can be easily corrected using the white balance adjustment in most good photo-editing programmes.
• Try multiple angles. Some dishes look good from the top down, other dishes that have more height look good taken at a diagonal because it shows more depth of the dish. You won’t know unless you try viewing it through the lens.
• Don’t take too long! Food, after all, is meant to be eaten. Letting the food sit for too long while you snap photos will affect the way it tastes.
“I’ve been told being able to pronounce the name of this dish — Rødgrød Med Fløde — is the true test of being Danish”.
Homemade mango sticky rice has never looked so posh, even though Yeong very humbly states it is “same, but (slightly) different”.
A favourite from his trip to Denmark was the final course at Noma. The fried moss started crunchy before turning chewy and “has a beautiful mellow transition from sweet to salty,” he notes.
3) Chan Kwai Sum, @chanksters
In between photos of (black-tie) parties with society friends and the odd shot of furry animals, investor Chan Kwai Sum’s Instagram presence allows his followers “to see the world through (his) eyes”. He takes them on holidays to blue skies and blue seas, and tantalises tastebuds with “seafood-centric” shots from the hot, the new and the popular tables overseas and locally.
Chan’s Instagram tricks:
• For a fresh perspective… shoot food partially consumed. Strategically include cutlery and other table props.
• If it’s too dark…use the torchlight from a friend’s smartphone to illuminate the food. Avoid flash or harsh lighting altogether. At a restaurant, I always look for the table/seat with the best lighting. Eating out at lunchtime is better for taking pictures as some restaurants are dimly lit in the evenings.
• Use filters judiciously. I use Snapseed lightly to saturate/brighten/unflatten pictures. I avoid Instagram built-in filters as they may reduce the quality of the photos.
“Uni delicious” from Sydney Fish Market.
Pan seared #arcticchar fillet with arugula puree, radish salad, dried iberico and pistachios from Artemis.
“Moonlight Noodles”, from restaurant Labyrinth, of cuttlefish horfun with A4 ohmi wagyu, lup cheong floss and egg injected with horfun sauce, and shaved Australian truffles.
4) Willin Low, @willcookwilleat
Entertaining commentary often accompanies the hunger-inducing shots by Wild Rocket chef-owner and pusher of Mod-Sin cuisine, Willin Low. They also show the former lawyer’s generous support for local hawkers and occasionally, his craving for instant noodles. Keep an eye out for a first look at his new project Po, rumoured to be big on popiah.
Low’s tips for photos you’d want to eat:
• The picture must want to make you eat the dish off your screen. It is food porn, after all. The angle must be right so the eye just wants to undress and devour the dish.
• Anything that is oozing is a bonus! It could be a chocolate lava thickly flowing out from a cake, or an onsen egg bursting with golden yolk.
• If there’s no natural light…white light is better than warm light.
The chef painted crab legs with soy sauce “for fun” to accompany the salted egg crab cake for the omakase menu at Wild Rocket.
“I love all kinds of dumplings,” he writes of this experimental shrimp dumpling, with a home-made xo sauce vinaigrette, which he reckons can be used on lots of other dishes.
“I love the prawn soup” at Penang delights, Blk 711 AMK Central, he says before adding that he doesn’t habitually drink soup because of the Singapore weather.
5) Loh Lik Peng, @pengloh
Hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng showcases the eats he loves at high-end and humbler establishments – not just those in his 20-over Unlisted Collection restaurants in four countries.
Fresh, sweet and “absolutely delicious” Kangaroo Island scallop, cured roe and cape gooseberry – from Automata in Sydney.
“You load up your own tray with what you like,” he writes of Aik Hoe in Penang, which reminds him of a place his grandpa used to bring him to.
THE BEST REASTAURANTS IN THE WORLD…ACCORDING TO @lobeholdteng
Wee Teng Wen’s Instagrams have taken a dose of cuteness with his new (human) baby, Ava, alongside his other 11 and counting F&B spots. When he travels, the managing partner of The Lo & Behold Group enjoys planning his itinerary of restaurants to visit based on suggestions from friends, family and industry people. “I also take note of the recommended places featured in my favourite publications and magazines,” he says. Here, he’s curated his favourite restaurants around the world, served up with additional observations:
“A lovely lunch with @lobeholdgroup long-service award recipients,” writes Wee of this meal at Odette, his Singapore restaurant with chef Julien Royer. He’s an admirer of Royer’s “approach to creating honest, simple yet elegant dishes… [that are] progressive and poetic at the same time”.
“We’re used to modern Korean in street food or casual dining, but to take a cuisine that’s inherently quite rustic and elevate it to fine dining standard is a challenge on a whole new level,” raves Wee of Jung Sik Dang in Seoul. “The dishes are remarkably innovative, taking familiar ingredients from traditional Korean cuisine and executing them using modern European techniques.”
Wee has been “a fanboy” of Joshua Skenes’ three-Michelin-starred Saison in San Francisco since eating there when it had just one star. He says: “Saison’s seafood-focused cuisine is ever delicate with elegant flavours. The Asian influence is light-handed, adding a sophisticated touch to the flavour profile.”
“The end of a great vegetable adventure…” Wee Instagrams of L’Apèrge in Paris, whom he credits for the trend of veggies usurping meats as the main focus. “Chef Alain Passard finds inventive ways of coaxing and layering different characters to create dishes that are an absolute treat for the palate.”