If The Black Hole Group’s head chef Muhammad Fadzil didn’t have to work, he’d still be cooking. “People think all chefs cook at home, but to tell you the truth, it never happens.” Fair enough – an entire day’s shift in the kitchen is exhausting. “So if I don’t cook in [the time I’m working], I’d rather cook at home and feed the people who I love.”
That’s a very real sacrifice that people in the F&B industry have to make: A regular person’s social hours are also their busiest work hours.
So when Fadzil and his sous chef Helmi did have time for a friendly chat, we took the chance to get to know them a little more personally, from their dishes of choice on date nights to their favourite food spots:
Fadzil and Helmi work brilliantly as a team, but in some ways, they couldn’t be more different.
If they could only eat one dish from their menu for the rest of their lives, Fadzil’s choice would Afterwit Mexican Taqueria’s Double Chilli Cheese Beef Burrito.
Picture this: Juicy beef slathered in a trinity of nacho cheese, shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese, accompanied with Mexican tomato rice, black beans, fresh pico de Gallo and a combination of spices and sauces. Fadzil raves, “For me, every day is cheat day, but that is a good cheat meal.”
He doesn’t even need big words to describe it (although he did ask, “Can I swear?”), because his gleeful tone says it all.
Helmi, on the other hand, is all about a quiet satisfaction. His pick is artisan pasta bar Tipo’s Aglio Olio, a simple pasta dish prepared with sliced and pressed garlic, lightly sautéed in olive oil. “It’s the simplest dish, but it’s the tastiest dish,” he muses.
Another case in point: Fadzil considers the glorious, gigantic Tomahawk (all 1.4kg of it!) over at The Co-Op @ Bukit Batok to be the most impressive thing he’s ever cooked. “I like to see the look on our customers’ faces when we present them with the Tomahawk,” he says.
And as for Helmi, he cites his Duck Ragu, an exceptionally memorable creation because it was made from scratch, without a recipe. “It was just based on what I thought a duck ragu should be, and it impressed most of my friends.”
The way to the foodie’s heart is through their stomach, but what would really captivate the date?
If Fadzil’s out to impress his date, he says he’d prepare a rich chocolate fondant. Dark chocolate sauce oozing out when you dig into your dessert? “It works 99% of the time. Trust me, it works,” he chuckles.
We know it’s not a competition, but Helmi says his go-to dish – a tip-top pasta – works “99.9999% of the time”.
But if we’re going back to the basics, this cheeky duo’s got tips for the home cooks too.
The first thing a home cook should master, according to Fadzil and Helmi, is eggs. “You’ve got to know your basics. If there’s no foundation, there’s no upping your game.”
Where they eat
As people constantly working around food, you can be sure their food recommendations hold a ton of weight. So we just had to ask: What’s your favourite food spot in Singapore, and what’s the best dish there?
Fadzil loves the Mee Rebus from Rahim Muslim Food in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10. (P.S. How do you know it’s really good? “Rahim Muslim Food Mee Rebus” comes up as a search suggestion when you’re midway through typing it in the Google search bar.)
“It’s thickened not by cornstarch, but by sweet potatoes, so you can really taste the richness of the gravy.”
Meanwhile, Helmi’s a loyal fan of Abdul Kader Eating House at Bedok North Street 3. We hear they do this Nasi Goreng Ikan Masin (salted fish fried rice). “Something I’d never recreate, because I just let them do it,” Helmi professes.
“Not helping sia,” jokes Fadzil at this point, who’s getting hungry from all that talk of food.
But by now, we already feel like we’ve gotten a glimpse into these chefs’ personalities – something we don’t normally get the chance to do, since they’re always working behind the scenes.
Check out the video above where they answer the rest of our questions, if you haven’t already!