Chef Andrew Baldus and group general manager Emmanuel Benardos of MeatSmith spill their biggest challenge in setting up the restaurant, plus where (else) they go to eat
American cuisine is more than just burgers and pizzas. Just ask chef Andrew Baldus and group general manager Emmanuel Benardos – these guys helm MeatSmith, an American barbecue smokehouse that’s created quite a buzz since opening on Telok Ayer Street. We chat with them about their latest venture, the setbacks they faced, their favourite haunts, and then some.
Hey Andrew and Emmanuel! What was the biggest challenge in setting up MeatSmith?
Importing our two Southern Pride smokers as well as sourcing the highest quality of meat for smoking were indeed big challenges, as this style of food hasn’t been done at the level we wanted here in Singapore. Lucky for us, we were able to get both.
What makes MeatSmith so special?
Our two Southern Pride smokers, of course! These bad boys allow us to smoke meat with real technique, giving you the real flavour of the South.
What’s the secret to perfectly grilled meats?
The correct temperature, the right wood to smoke, patience, and lots of love and care.
Andrew, what were you up to before MeatSmith?
I’ve worked in restaurants all my life including great Southern ones like Husk in Nashville. There, my passion for Southern cooking began. I also staged and worked at Burnt Ends (20 Teck Lim Road, p. 6224 3933) two years ago and that gave me a real taste for life in Singapore.
What are both of your thoughts on the dining scene in Singapore?
It’s constantly evolving and getting better, that’s for sure. But for us, the real heartbeat of Singapore food is the hawkers. People cooking amazing dishes for such a great price – that’s really something that’s hard to beat, even with all these hot restaurants in the city.
Where do both of you go for good food and drinks?
Bincho (#01-19, 78 Moh Guan Terrace, Singapore 162078, p. 6438 4567) for amazing Japanese food; Eng’s Noodles House (287 Tanjong Katong Road, p. 8688 2727) for wonton mee; Park Bench Deli (179 Telok Ayer Street, p. 6815 4600) for a classic American sandwich; Long Chim (L2-02, Atrium 2, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, p. 6688 7299) for Thai; and Imperial Treasure (#05-42 Paragon Shopping Centre, 290 Orchard Road, p. 6732 7838) for excellent Peking duck.
Emmanuel, name your biggest pet peeve.
People eating sandwiches with a knife and fork. You gotta eat it with your hands to get all the flavour!
Is there a big trend overseas that you wish to see happening in this country?
We’d love to see something like Eataly (deli shopping with great dining counters) all in one venue, but with space restrictions and rent being so high here, we don’t know if this will work in Singapore. It’ll also be great to see more weekend and farmers markets, where you can get great wine, beer, spirits, prepared food, groceries and vegetables, cheeses and seafood.
Andrew, where do you go in Singapore to unwind and relax?
I love to lie on a daybed at Tanjong Beach Club (120 Tanjong Beach Walk, p. 9750 5323) and watch the waves come in. It’s nice to forget you live in a city for a whole afternoon.
Emmanuel, what would be your ideal meal on a bad day?
It has to be chicken rice.
Tell us about the different kinds of people you meet at MeatSmith every day.
Well, we get lots of business people as we’re located in the CBD, but we do get people from all walks of life coming in. Young, old, families… our concept is very universal and suits pretty much anyone.
MeatSmith, 167-169 Telok Ayer, Singapore 068620, p. 62212262.