Park Bench Deli’s Ming Tan talks About His Creative Process in the Kitchen

This 2018, Creamier turns 7, and to celebrate this milestone, we wanted to focus on several individuals who have helped shape Creamier throughout the years, seeing us grow into the ice cream brand we are today.

The “7 Moments of Happiness” campaign focuses on these individuals and their journeys in life. It’s a series of fireside chats with people from our community who have constantly supported us, and who have eventually become good friends of Creamier. Always be in great company.

From cooking with friends over the weekend, to selling his sandwiches at pop-up events and at the back of food trucks, Ming Tan now runs Park Bench Deli at Telok Ayer Street. Ham and Cheese, Philly Cheesesteak, and Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches might be his forte, but Ming Tan also has a knack for sweets and desserts. Fun fact: we collaborated with him two years ago to create a special sorbet to celebrate our fifth anniversary. Today he sits down with us to chat about his creative process. 

We know it’s been two years since, but can you tell us about the thought process that went into the special sorbet, Torched Pineapple with Sansho Pepper Sorbet, that you crafted for Creamier’s fifth anniversary back in 2016?

I am a huge fan of sorbets. I think you get all the satisfaction of eating ice cream but with a nice, clean finish. Our first conversation about potential flavours saw the idea of a pineapple-based sorbet. I attempted to pack layers of flavour by caramelising pineapple and charring the surfaces for a faint smokey note, then combining the pineapple with cayenne and sansho pepper for some heat and tingle. This mix was then turned into a smooth but punchy sorbet!

That sounds really good. What’s it like to come up with a product that’s not your usual creation?

Creating new items requires imagination, objectivity, and sensibility. You have to imagine the flavours in your head before you approach the process of producing something. Then you need to be objective about whether or not your own palate is a good indicator of the potential of this product. Finally, sensibility in process helps to keep you grounded. If man-hours are wasted trying to achieve an effect that is marginal at best, cut your losses and try something else. There are other paths you can take to reach a similar destination.

Do you then observe a difference between making savoury food and desserts?

Of course! With savoury food items, you’re talking more off-the-cuff cooking. Desserts need much more planning, as they are often temperature-sensitive components to be plated, and reactions occur at specific rates and times. The beauty in confection is just how precise and organised you must be in order to have everything turn out well.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about the people in the food industry. Many believe our profession and space is about food and beverage alone. They forget that people are still at the core fo the matter [and that] people are making things for other people.

Park Bench Deli grew from pop-up to brick-and-mortar, which is very inspiring. What is your perspective of Singapore’s food scene? Where are we headed?

We are in the middle of a challenging time. There is a glut of F&B establishments in Singapore right now, and in the near future many of these will underperform and have to close. We have enjoyed a boom period where many new businesses opened up with nary any regulation, and the trickle-down effect is that everyone gets a smaller slice of the pie. I wait with bated breath to see who stays strong and who gets weeded out in the months ahead.

Tell us, do you have a favourite Creamier ice cream flavour?

I like heavier, richer, punchy, or bright flavours. Choosing one is not possible; Peanut Butter and Jelly and Charcoal Black Sesame are definitely on my list if we’re talking about Creamier ice creams. The Honey Lemon Yuzu sorbet, too!

What’s next for Park Bench Deli?

More good food. We are looking to expand into other areas in Singapore and hope to spread our steady sandwiches to other places where people can appreciate our products!

We can’t wait!

Learn more about Park Bench Deli via parkbenchdeli.com and on Instagram

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