5 Singaporean chefs who make us proud
Being a nation of foodies, our country has produced its own breed of celebrity chefs who have achieved superstar status in their own right. It may be because of bringing our local cuisine to a bigger audience (the world) or coming up with a unique style that breaks the norms in traditional cooking. Whatever the reasons are – we are sure proud of them. So, with that in mind, here are five of Singapore’s finest dining maestros.
Driven by passion, Chef Justin Quek used his life savings in 1991 and flew to France to improve his culinary skills. While there, he worked in various Michelin-starred kitchens which helped him come up with his own culinary style that redefined Asian cuisine by using French cooking techniques.
After his training, he went back to Singapore and joined Les Amis as Chef De Cuisine and partner. Dreaming even bigger, he left Singapore once again and opened French restaurants in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taiwan. He could have continued on the fast track of being one of Asia’s biggest chefs, but he chose to come back to Singapore in 2010.
Now the Principal Chef of Sky on 57 at the iconic Marina Bay Sands, he brings with him over 20 years of experience that resulted in signatures such as the Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao, Maine Lobster Hokkien Mee and Nordic Crab Vermicelli.
Foodie or not – chances are you’ve heard of Eric Teo. He is one of our top local celebrity chefs who has garnered a number of awards throughout his career spanning almost two decades.
He helped bring Singapore food to the world stage by leading a team of chefs at the Culinary Olympics in 2000 and 2004 and the Culinary World Cup in 2002. Even though being able to participate was privilege enough, the team also brought home gold medals.
Not content to just sit on his laurels, he has continued to work in the kitchen and is now the Executive Chef at Mandarin Oriental. While this takes up a chunk of his time, he remains to be a familiar face on cooking shows and competitions to mentor the younger generation who also want to make a name in the F&B scene.
Chef Janice Wong’s original plan was to follow in her parents’ footsteps by earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. However, her love for desserts led her to study pastry making at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Since then, she has honed her craft by working in world-renowned kitchens around the world. During her stints, she worked with the likes of Spanish Cholatier Oriol Balaguer and French Pastry Chef Pierre Hermé.
With experience, passion and dedication, she went back to Singapore to open 2am:dessert bar and 2am:lab. The concept is simple – make the desserts the highlight of the meal. Using her restaurants as her own platform, she has created a unique style that blurs the boundaries between sweet and savoury.
It was Chef Sam Leong’s father that got him interested in cooking, with his first dining role being a kitchen apprentice for their popular Chinese restaurant, Malaysia’s King of Shark’s Fin. This early exposure taught him the tools and the trade of being an exceptional chef with Chinese cuisine as the specialty.
Barely in his 30s, he already became the Executive of Chef Jiang-Nan Chun at the Four Seasons Hotel. Later on, he joined Tung Lok Group as its Corporate Chef/Director of Kitchens and helped expand the business overseas.
While he was at the peak of his career, he cooked for high-profile names such as our founding father Lee Kuan Yew, former US presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton and British Queen Elizabeth II.
Earning a reputation as one of Singapore’s own celebrity chefs, he now owns a restaurant alongside other celebrity chefs at the Resorts World Sentosa. Named Forest (after his wife), he continues to please the palate with what he cooks best – Chinese dishes with a contemporary touch.
Considered as a versatile chef, Eric Neo is an expert in Cantonese, Western, Peranakan, Malay and Singaporean cuisine. His strength and experience in the kitchen has led him to helm the restaurants at Marina Mandarin Hotel and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.
In 2011, he joined Intercontinental Hotel as its Executive Chef to oversee its famous food establishments such as the renowned Man Fu Yuan, Aroma and Lobby Lounge. In heading the kitchens, he ensures that his personal touch – cooking premium ingredients with minimal fuss – is in every dish that’s served.
Also a celebrity in Singapore, he regularly appears on local cooking shows to mentor up-and-coming chefs who want to develop their cooking techniques.