Petrina worked as a banker for 8 years before she decided it was enough. Just after the financial crisis it was a very stressful time and there were a lot of new banking products she didn’t believe in.
She realised banking wasn’t what she wanted to do for the rest of her life so she quit. She broke her bond with MAS – who sponsored her wealth management master’s degree – and explored the option to open up a restaurant or do something with food to follow her passion. And all this happened before she turned thirty.
The start of Petrina’s (Culinary) Journey
Once back in Singapore, Petrina figured she wanted to pursue her culinary interest. She always loved to cook and while she heard lots of horror stories about opening up a restaurant and why not to do it, she was convinced this was the right move for her.
To get started she wanted to be trained professionally and considered going to school in France or San Francisco. Since Petrina’s ambition was to cook Fusion, not French food she felt San Francisco was a better fit. The fact that she studied there before and loved the city definitely eased that decision. San Francisco was and is such a melting pot of flavours, providing lots of fresh ingredients, offering a very fusion style of cooking.
Back to School
So it was back to school for two years. Petrina says she was definitely a late starter, but she felt being a bit older gave her an edge as well. She was very determined and focused on what she wanted to accomplish. Where fellow students still wanted to party, she picked up her knives and knocked on doors to get a job at restaurants and gain as much work experience as possible.
In these two years at school she worked at various places – including several Michelin star restaurants. She feels fortunate to be trained by so many great chefs, especially an ex-sous chef of French Laundry who mentored her throughout the years.
After finishing school Petrina went back to Singapore to figure out what’s next. She knew she wanted to open a place, but what exactly she wasn’t sure yet.
Inspired by her dad
Petrina mentions her father taught her how to cook. He took her to the wet market to choose ingredients and brought her to different eateries to experience as many dishes and flavours as possible. He definitely started Petrina passion for food and cooking. Some of the dishes on the menu are inspired by Petrina’s upbringing. Take the clams, this dish is based on a soup Petrina often had when growing up.
When Petrina moved back she wondered what she wanted to create. Tapas was very popular at that time in Singapore. The idea of small bites like tapas or dim-sum with a wide variety of good food options to get lots of flavours spoke to Petrina. Morsels is not Spanish by any means, but the Spanish tapas style serving was definitely an inspiration.
Morsels means little bits or parcels of food, small bites. Looking at the logo you see two sea otters. When they nibble on food it’s called morsels of food, little pieces. Sea otters are also very common in San Francisco / West Coast, hence the name seemed fitting for the restaurant.
Welcome to my home
Morsel’s concept is to be very welcoming like hosting a friend at home. Come in, have a good time, enjoy good food and a great selection of drinks. Sharing food, conversations, laughters with friends and families. – that’s what Petrina wants for Morsels.
The food can be called progressive fusion – using classic techniques while merging them with modern or Asian interpretations. Traditional French techniques can be mixed with Chinese style cooking to really melt these two worlds together.
Flavours and Textures
When creating new dishes there’s one philosophy Petrina beliefs in and follows. Each dish need to have a component of sweet and sour, salt and bitter, different textures and different flavours. This can be accomplished in many ways, which gives the menu and all the dishes a unique bite.
It’s about building different layers of flavours in each dish – take a bite of each individual item on your plate and then all together to explore the individual flavours as well as how they mix.
Fermenting, pickling and curing is a passion of Petrina which you can find in a lot of dishes as it helps to follow her philosophy.
Petrina mentions she loves fermenting since she doesn’t get great produce in Singapore. So if she gets some, she wants to preserve as much as she can. Not only to keep the flavour, but also to develop the flavour further. Fermentation is a very healthy way of preserving vegetables, which is another benefit for Petrina who loves to include Chinese herbs or other health-benefiting elements to her dishes.
Chef or Owner or both?
People often think it’s the same. But it’s not. As owner you need to be willing to deal with all the elements of owning a restaurant. You’re a cook, a chef AND you’re running a business. It can kill your passion to cook, so you have to be sure you want to take that chance. If you think you can put up with this and work long hours, seven days a week, then yes, go for it and open up your own place. But you better be sure.
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