If you’re an avid Urban journey reader, then you know that we’re huge fans of Lukes and Blue Label Pizza & Wine. In fact, we’ve even made Lukes part of an annual tradition, so not a Thanksgiving goes by where we’re not tucking into Chef Travis’ turkey. We also love dining at the bar at Luke’s at Heeren when we’re in the mood for a quick kale salad and a glass of vino. Because these are some of our top dining destinations, we wanted to check in with Chef Travis and find out more about his culinary journey. Read on to find out how he started his career here in Singapore, what his favourite restaurants are, and his tips on how to cook a great steak!
Urban Journey: As a young chef, was there a particular meal or dish that was an inspiration or a revelation?
Travis Masiero: There were many inspiring meals and moments, but I would say the most transformative moment for me was a meal at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona. It completely changed my perception of what a great restaurant could be and should be. The thought, care, and integrity they put into every dish really has shaped the way I cook and respond to food.
UJ: How did you end up in Singapore and what led you to open Luke’s and Blue Label Pizza?
TM: In 2005, I was working in California and a friend of mine reached out from Singapore wondering if I would be interested in an opportunity to lead a new restaurant. I jumped at the chance and have made Singapore home ever since!
Luke’s was formed in 2011 after I spent some time in Singapore and felt there was a gap in the landscape for a top tier oyster bar and classic American steakhouse. I considered myself very fortunate that I already had a great clientele base, but I also had a strong sense that diners were looking for something of the highest quality without all the trappings of fine dining. Thankfully, we have been privileged to serve Singapore for almost nine years and continue to try to be better every day.
Blue Label Pizza & Wine was born from my desire to build a little neighbourhood pizzeria that focused on quality. I had been thinking of doing a wine bar for some time and thought that combining the two would be a perfect marriage. Our quick success at The Original Blue Label on Ann Siang was really unexpected, and it motivated us to build a sister location on Orchard road.
UJ: What would your last meal on Earth be and where would you have it?
TM: I would prefer a very simple meal cooked over a wood fire and eaten while sitting at the ocean’s edge. Something like fresh oysters, just-harvested, grilled vegetables, and fish from the sea.
UJ: What motivates and inspires you daily?
TM: My team. I just want to do right by them by offering them new opportunities to be better professionals and creating environments that foster professional growth.
UJ: Are there any lessons you’ve learned in the past that you remind yourself about from time to time?
TM: In life it’s so important to be grateful to people who have offered advice, shared wisdom, provided feedback, or pushed you to be better. After all, we are but a compilation of our experiences. Being mindful that so many people have helped shape me is important to keep perspective.
UJ: Words to live by?
TM: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”
UJ: What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
TM: Sushi Dai with my wife in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market after standing in line for three hours with our then 2-year-old son.
UJ: Do you have a simple recipe for a steak that you can share with our readers?
TM: The best advice I can give people on how to cook steak is to ask your butcher to cut your steaks extra thick. A 2” thick cut at the least will help you control the cooking of the meat much easier and allow enough time for you to get a good crust on both sides of your steak.
UJ: What’s your favourite restaurant, bar, café in Singapore?
TM: Hmm…..I would say a restaurant I love but many people have not been too is Nagomi in Cuppage Plaza. It’s open late and serves only what’s fresh and in season from Japan. This is my happy place when I want a great meal late at night.
UJ: How about worldwide?
TM: I would have to say Pizzeria Bianco.