Imagine a burger. What comes to mind is probably the sort from a fast-food restaurant. Mass-produced, ingredients to be assembled in the kitchen like blocks of Lego. Tiga Roti, though, is nothing like this. Operating through its cloud kitchen concept, Tiga Roti serves up halal-friendly, gourmet burgers; ones that aren’t lacking when it comes to heart and soul. How? Because everything they use is specially sourced and made from scratch in their own kitchen.
We speak with Group Executive Chef Adam Penney to learn how he has arrived at this point in his adventure-filled culinary journey, which has spanned across cultures and countries and brought him from Europe to Asia.
A kid in Dublin to a chef in London
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Chef Adam describes himself as being the “fat kid” who always loved food. At the young age of 5, he started to make cakes, biscuits, and eventually, Sunday roasts for his family. This very love led him to pursue the culinary arts. At 21 years old, he moved to London to become a chef.
What he loves most about his job does include the oft-mentioned perks of being in the kitchen 24/7—getting to eat what he wants, whenever he wants, which he happily remarks as something “rather good”. But his passion for cooking runs much deeper. Every single day poses a different challenge for those who live and breathe food, but he welcomes the hustle as part and parcel of being in this line of work.
We’re constantly learning and constantly evolving. That is part of being a chef, really.
Adam Penney, Group Executive Chef of Tiga Roti
Making a home in Singapore
Adventure has always been part of Chef Adam’s fascinating life, and his love story is no different. During the interview, he tells us that not long after moving here, he met his now-wife, Saffy, who is Indian-Muslim. After getting married to each other in 2014, he converted to her faith and they now also have a young daughter together. Fast forward to today and Chef has fully settled down in our sunny island, now calling this place his home with his family.
He recounts that over the years, he has joined in on countless Hari Raya celebrations with Saffy’s family and has spent every Ramadan with them. Her family’s vibrant culture, their rendition of Indian-Muslim cuisine, and the local flavours of Singapore have all influenced the creation of Tiga Roti. And this is why he sought to make his burgers halal-friendly for the Muslim community:
I wanted everybody to have the burgers that I love making.
Adam Penney, Group Executive Chef of Tiga Roti
Comfort food with soul
When Chef said that Tiga Roti makes everything from scratch, he means it. Patties, burger buns, condiments and sauces… yes, down to their mayonnaise, hot sauces, and ketchup. Name it and it’s probably made in-house. Chef tells us that he likes to be able to control what goes into every element of his burgers. This allows him to better control the final flavours, and to keep his ingredients as fresh and natural as possible.
Sourcing for halal-certified ingredients that also lived up to Chef’s stringent standards proved difficult. This grueling process alone took over a year! He also recalls how he simply could not find halal dijon mustard that was good enough for his burgers. And so, he resolved to make the condiment himself, starting from tabula rasa with the bare basic ingredients.
Chef Adam’s Tiga Roti recommendations
For cheeseburger purists, Chef Adam has got your back with Tiga Roti’s Plug Three ($12). To preface, the 100% beef patties are the cream of the crop, using grass-fed cattle that graze in Argentina’s La Pampa Valley. That’s not to mention the depth of flavours that their array of condiments and sauces impart. Chef uses their house ketchup (his pick for his favourite creation) that is infused with cloves, cocoa nibs, toasted nori and gochujang. A rich and smoky mayonnaise adds to the palette of flavours. All of this goodness sits within a demi-brioche bun, which remains sturdy enough to hold everything together while remaining light and fluffy to the bite!
Remember how Chef tells us that he was influenced by the flavors of Singapore’s local cuisine? With this, he created the Monie Love ($12), putting a twist on the aforementioned cheeseburger. Chef substitutes traditional fresh onion slices or its pickled counterpart for bawang goreng, or fried shallots. It’s an ingredient that is often used in local dishes. Amidst the robust, smoky flavours of the burger, these bits add a welcomed crunch and a deeper fragrance. Really, what can I say—other than these burgers are absolutely to die for?
Where to next, Chef?
Love often escapes words, but Chef’s passion for the work he does is clear to see. In sharing the intricate thought processes that have gone into each element of his burgers, and even the exact ingredients of recipes, he has a genuine love for the craft. Not forgetting his love for the people he cooks for, too, from his wife, his daughter, his family to his customers. That’s you and I.
But at the end of the day, Chef’s humble about where he’s going next. “I could always learn more—that’s the beauty of cooking,” he says when asked about his plans for the future.
Food made with love is the best, people say. And Tiga Roti was born at the intersection of Chef Adam’s passion for burgers and good quality ingredients, combined with his love for his wife Saffy. It can’t get any better than this.