28 August 2023

Five minutes with Avtar Singh, Water's Edge Restaurant

| Claire Sams
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Avtar was a farmer in his birth country of India, and he’s still passionate about food, farming and gardening as a chef. Photo: Curated Visuals – Photography & Videography Canberra.

Who are you?

I’m Avtar Singh, and I’m the executive chef and managing director of Water’s Edge.

What should someone know about you?

I’m always creative, honest and hardworking.

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

I was a farmer in India and came to study for my hospitality certificate III and IV in Australia. After that, I moved to regional areas, places like Narromine, Narooma and the coast as well.

After living in those regional areas and understanding that culture, I returned to Canberra. It’s not too overcrowded and it’s surrounded by nature. There’s a lot of nature reserves around Canberra where I go for walks and pick some stuff.

meat dish

Water’s Edge is a fine dining restaurant in Parkes serving modern Australian food. Photo: Water’s Edge Restaurant.

What are the top three items that really show what Water’s Edge can do?

I make a duck dish that’s doing really well, and it has a different flavour profile than anything we do.

When cooking the duck breasts, we brush them with honey and put spices on the skin, which matches very well with the cauliflower puree and semi-dry strawberries.

Another one is a beef dish, and then a chicken dish. We’ve matched that smoky flavour of aubergine with a blue cheese sauce which is very flavourful in your mouth, and they go with the chicken.

What is your favourite or must-use ingredient when cooking?

I use a lot of spices when I cook, but I wouldn’t name just one. We often use cumin, coriander and fennel in our day-to-day cooking. I really like that combination, and it goes with the French food, as well.

For some of the seafood, fennel is very good. Cumin goes with the red meats, like lamb, and coriander does not have a strong flavour so it complements the other flavours.

What is Canberra’s best-kept food secret?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen the Asian market taking over. There are a lot of influences from Asian cuisine nowadays in Canberra.

There are lots of good Asian restaurants doing well. Even if I go into a European or French restaurant, I can see some of the influence from Asian countries, such as Malaysia.

fancy plate of food

Mr Singh came to Australia from India to work in hospitality and has settled in Canberra after time in the regions. Photo: Avtar Singh.

What is your comfort food?

Italian. I really like the breads, like focaccia and that kind of thing. I also like Tiramisu, and sometimes I buy pizzas on my day off for my kids. I really like fresh pasta.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?

Normally, with my family and friends, we eat Nepalese cuisine at a place in Gungahlin called Canberra Fast Food and Momo House.

Who do you find inspiration in the Canberra food scene?

I find a lot of motivation from smaller places because some of the ingredients they use are really good.

Where’s your go-to coffee place?

I normally go to Green House in the Canberra Centre. After visiting Myer or David Jones, we go shopping and have a coffee date. I like trying everything, but I mostly like having a cappuccino.

Water’s Edge is located at 40 Parkes Place in Parkes. It is open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch reservations from 12 pm to 1:30 pm (open till 3:30 pm) and dinner reservations from 5:45 pm to 8:30 pm (open till late).

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