Chefs Lorraine Sinclair and Cherish Finden on Pan Pacific London’s unique Asian offering

Luxury London

12 August 2021

The first European outpost of Singaporean brand Pan Pacific Hotels Group opens its doors on 1 September, and some of its hospitality offerings are already taking bookings. We speak to the culinary masterminds behind Straits Kitchen, Ginger Lily and The Orchid Lounge.

"It’s not just about Singaporean cuisine – it is all of the cultures that have influenced the food over the years, including Vietnam, India and Malaysia."

12 August 2021 | Luxury London

In partnership with: Pan Pacific London

The London branch of the Pan Pacific Hotels Group has devised various experiences to maximise guest wellbeing, from bespoke jetlag programmes to curated in-room reading. But where the spirit of Singapore really comes to life is in its hospitality: ahead of its opening on 1 September, Pan Pacific London is pleased to welcome bookings at three of its five food and drink offerings. Straits Kitchen will team with British producers to bring the flavours of the Straits of Malacca to London’s Liverpool Street. Ginger Lily, meanwhile, boasts a champagne list from over 200 houses and a specialised rum menu, while The Orchid Lounge will combine Asian flavours with the traditional British afternoon tea.

At the helm of this bold gastronomic offering are Executive Chef Lorraine Sinclair and Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden. Sinclair has worked as an executive chef all over the world, starting her career in Seoul in 2000 at Lotte Hotel before moving to work with Swiss hotel group Mövenpick in Istanbul. In 2006, she returned to Asia to join Langham Place in Hong Kong, before launching three new hotels in China, as well as overseeing the group's Thailand, Hong Kong and London outposts. Since 2010, Sinclair has continued to cook in esteemed hotel kitchens around the world, including The Grand Tarabya in Istanbul, Fairmont in the UAE and The Sheraton Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.

Singaporean Cherish Finden, meanwhile, is known for a unique approach to patisserie that combines the flavours of her homeland with the European art of pastry. She discovered a passion for patisserie in 1991, when she landed her first role at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore, going on to work with some of the city’s most iconic hotels including Raffles, Marco Polo and The Sheraton Tower. On moving to London in 2001, Finden worked at the Great Eastern Hotel, the Marriott Hotel, John Lewis, The Langham and Godiva. In 2020, her career came full circle when she returned to the Pan Pacific Hotels Group.

Sinclair and Finden speak exclusively to Luxury London on the imminent launch of Pan Pacific London's culinary offering:

Lorraine Sinclair

What made Pan Pacific London such an exciting project to be part of?
I wanted to work on another opening and I wanted to be based back in the UK.

You’ve helped launch hotels all over the world. What makes Pan Pacific London special?
Its cultures and its values, it is all driven by people.

Has the coronavirus pandemic affected the way you think about food?
No. People still want to eat and socialise. Yes, they are weary, but the demand for food will still be there. Food leads to happiness and balance.

Has it had any impact on the menus you’ve devised for Pan Pacific London?
No, not at all. Obviously for large functions we won’t be doing buffet food, but in terms of day-to-day, not a lot has changed.

What sort of food can we expect at the hotel?
Fresh, eccentric and local to the countries that they come from. Our dishes will taste authentic.

How do you hope to recreate the flavour and diversity of Singaporean cuisine in the City of London?
It’s not just about Singaporean cuisine – it is all of the cultures that have influenced the food over the years, including Vietnam, India and Malaysia. It is as much about the neighbouring countries as it is about Singapore itself. One ingredient can change the whole flavour and presentation of the dish.

We are working with Nurtured in Norfolk to grow authentic ingredients right here in the UK, without compromising on flavour, whilst also reducing our carbon footprint. Where we can be as authentic as possible, we will be. My kitchen team is very diverse and I have asked that they keep religiously to their palette.

Which dish must every visitor try?
Wok-fried Singaporean chilli crab, and also the butter-aged beef with curry leaf and lemongrass.

What can you recommend for dessert?
For me personally, the sago soup. It is mango panna cotta and a coconut sago soup. I love the freshness of it – it is light and cleanses the palette at the end of the meal, ready for a good glass of champagne after.

What’s your favourite city in the world?
Ho Chi Minh City, because it’s still authentic to its culture – it hasn’t yet been overrun with tourists, it is still genuine Vietnam. The people, the walks of life, the food… I love it all.

How about your favourite hotel?
The Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong, for the diversity of the cuisine and the views over Victoria Harbour.

Which building would you like to have all to yourself?
I’d rather have Seminyak Beach in Bali all to myself, to watch the sun go down with a margarita – it’s the most amazing sunset.

If you could jump on a plane to anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Bali. I have so many happy memories there.

Cherish Finden

How did you first become involved in patisserie cooking?
When I was about 13 years old I volunteered to go into a cake shop in Singapore. I helped make 60-70 cakes a day and I just fell in love with it. Pastry has always been something I have wanted to do because of how creative it can be.

What is it about patisserie that inspires you?
I think pastry is fascinating. I love exploring different flavour combinations – it’s like stepping into my own magical world. I find pastry so intriguing and diverse. I’m falling in love with it more and more every day.

How would you describe your individual approach to cooking?
I am always very open-minded. I like exploring, setting trends and discovering new things.

What is your aim when devising a new recipe or dish?
My guests come first – I want to see a smile on their faces, so I think about what will achieve that. When people bite into my pastries I want it to be beautiful. I want them to be amazing, both in looks and in taste. I want other people to see my guests enjoying the pastries, and want them too.

Has the coronavirus pandemic affected the way you think about food?
It has made me a stronger person. When we get out of this pandemic I want to showcase my best and work even harder.

Has it had any impact on the menus you’ve devised for Pan Pacific London?
Not hugely, no – although there will be no sharing desserts.

Can we expect a lot of sweet treats on the Pan Pacific London menu?
One of the most exciting things I am working on at Pan Pacific London is my own chocolate with [French chocolate manufacturer] Valrhona. I chose to work with them not only because their chocolate is just delicious, but also because they are a sustainable brand with B-Corp certification. Watch this space.

What else can we expect?
A humble, gracious and welcoming experience. I want to share what I love with everyone. I want my pastries to evoke memories of home cooking.

How do you hope to recreate the flavour and diversity of Singaporean cuisine in the City of London?
This is all about opening the mindset of people to Asian patisserie (not the usual éclairs and macaroons). I have always dreamt of bringing a slice of Singapore to London. I will be using Asian ingredients that are grown by Nurtured in Norfolk here in the UK to create authentic tastes, for example, using pandan and lemongrass. This is my passion – I want people to be able to taste the passion and energy.

Tell us about Kopi Tiam, your afternoon tea offering at The Orchid Lounge.
Combining my unique flair for Asian flavours with the traditional British tea, the Singaporean-inspired Kopi Tiam will feature some of my childhood favourite sweet treats, such as peranakan pineapple tart (a buttery pastry with Pandan pineapple jam), and Kueh Lapis, a moist spice cake. A selection of handmade pastries will also feature, including Coffee Tarik (an intense coffee with creamy mascarpone, Kahlua and chocolate). To round off the offering, Asian savouries will include soy and ginger marinated salmon bao and a mini dim sum basket, to name a few.

For anyone unfamiliar with Pan Pacific Singapore, can you explain the sort of reputation the hotel has earned?
Pan Pacific Hotels and resorts are the embodiment of gracious, dependable hospitality, characterised by warm smiles, unassuming postures and thoughtful processes.

What’s your favourite city in the world?
London for me, it is so diverse. I have made it my home.

How about your favourite hotel?
Banyan Tree Hotel in Thailand. And, of course, Pan Pacific London, once it’s open.

Which building would you like to have all to yourself?
The Taj Mahal. It’s a magnificent building – its architecture is so recognisable and so beautiful.

If you could jump on a plane to anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Japan. I have never visited before and would love to discover its culture, explore its food and see its beautiful landscapes. Also, Singapore – to see my family.

To book a table at Straits Kitchen, Ginger Lily or The Orchid Lounge, visit panpacific.com