If there’s an issue to divide foodies, more than liking coriander or not, it’s fusion cooking.
However, Dylan Smith, 27, chef and owner of one-month-old dine-at-home business, FUZE, is unperturbed that people can be wary about his favourite genre.
“I spent a lot of time in Singapore growing up and it’s a country mainly built by immigrants, so multiculturalism is enshrined in everyday life,” says the Edinburgh-based chef, who previously worked at Six by Nico and Orocco Pier. “It was there that I developed my passion for food and its ability to connect people. The hawker centres in Singapore are filled with both traditional foods and fusion dishes that bring Malays, Indonesians, Indians and Chinese to the same table”.
FUZE’s first menu, at a very reasonable £30 for two courses for two people, was a hybrid of Indian and Italian cuisine.
It consisted of tomato arancini with malai sauce; spinach, mushroom and mozzarella kathi rolls and nutty biryani rice, cooked in his cast iron Dutch oven, with a pot of whipped ricotta on the side. There was also an optional snack - pani puri filled with caponata and topped by pink masala emulsion and green salsa verde.
For those who have jaded taste buds, it’s something rather unique.
There are also so many interesting textures and layers of flavour, that the fact that the dishes are vegetarian doesn’t even register.
As Dylan, who is half Singaporean, says, “Initially people tell us they are quite sceptical yet intrigued. However, once they taste the food they are pleasantly surprised”.
Their next amalgamation is Thailand with Morocco, and dishes include spring roll, sriracha, chilli oil and chermoula.
“I try to pick genres that are, historically and geographically, quite far apart,” he says. “This tends to work well because the flavour profiles often are very different from each other. That being said, I still need to make sure the food will work well together, so first I look out for common ingredients and techniques that can be used to connect them”.
Dylan, whose chief tasters are his girlfriend and her sister, was inspired to do his own thing after seeing the success of other lockdown businesses in the capital.
“Producers like Afternoon Tea by Rose, Millieslittlebakeddreams, Bad Seeds, AEmilia and Homemade by Caitlin were all inspirational for me,” he says. “While I’m sure that fancy decor and elegant plating will come back once lockdown lifts, I think people have discovered a new relationship with food - one that is more approachable, fuss free and local, especially in Edinburgh, where I am finding the support for small independent food producers is incredible”.
Hopefully, post lockdown, we will continue our new habit of food delivery, alongside going back to visiting our favourite restaurants.
Dylan’s plan is to go with the flow.
“Right now it's just me in my kitchen at home trying to make tasty and interesting food for people”, says the chef, who will be launching his new website soon. “Maybe one day I can expand and move into a ghost kitchen or hire a premises, but that’s a long way off. For now I’m happy that I’m getting to create my own dishes and people are enjoying it”.
Instagram : @fuzefoodedinburgh