In celebration of Singapore’s 51st birthday, we pay tribute to five local chefs who have earned their rightful place in the culinary world.

Our nation may be small, but when it comes to local culinary talents, we never run out of them. From Violet Oon, our national treasure who has helped place the Singapore cuisine on the global map, to chef Jason Tan who has earned critics’ nod here and overseas for his own type of cuisine, these are just some of the people who make us proud.

Cheryl Koh

Photo: Les Amis

Les Amis always presents us too-pretty-to-eat desserts, and the person we have to thank for that is pastry chef Cheryl Koh. She joined the restaurant group in 2015 and in just one year, she bagged the title of Asia’s Best Pastry Chef in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards 2016.

It’s not surprising as we all know how talented she is in creating decadent pastries. But that didn’t come without hard work. Prior to joining Les Amis, she embarked on a culinary journey all over the world to discover new tastes and learn from the great chefs like Iaccarino in Italy. While she’s now based in Singapore, she continues to reinvent desserts inspired by the very best ingredients, global flavours and her adventures.

Willin Low

Photo: Wild Rocket

Formerly a lawyer, Willin Low left the corporate world to pursue his real passion: Food. In 2005, he opened Wild Rocket which serves “Mod Sin” or modern Singapore cuisine. More than 10 years in this business, his restaurant continues to attract foodies with his modern interpretation of local dishes.

His creative spirit has garnered him a number of accolades, such being in New York Times’ list of Singapore chef’s who continue to reinvent traditional food culture as well as Financial Times’ one of the best Singapore chefs. What keeps him motivated? He said that he has travelled the world and tasted the best meals, but at the end of the day, he still craves for hawker food he grew up with.

Jason Tan

Photo: Corner House

Chef Jason Tan is currently the chef-patron of Corner House, which recently earned a Michelin star in the first Singapore Michelin Guide. His signature Gastro-Botanica cuisine, which puts great emphasis on the quality of ingredients and the perfect balance of protein and botanical elements, has earned him great reviews from food critics. With everything he has achieved in his career, it’s hard to believe that he’s only 34 years old.

A graduate of SHATEC, he earned his stripes working for renowned chefs such as Julien Bompard from the defunct Le Saint Julient and Justin Quek from Sky on 57. His career also led him overseas where he worked at Robuchon au Dome at Hotel Lisboa Macau. During this time, he managed to create his signature cuisine—which is what he offers at his restaurant. 

Violet Oon

Photo: National Kitchen by Violet Oon

Who hasn’t heard of the great Violet Oon? Known as the grand dame of cooking, she’s considered a national treasure with all the contributions she has made to the local F&B scene.

In her long and illustrious career, it seems like she has done it all—worked as a food critic, wrote cookbooks, opened dining establishments, hosted TV cooking shows and served as consultant for national and international events. Most recently, she opened National Kitchen by Violet Oon at the National Gallery Singapore, and received rave reviews for its stellar cuisine.

Janice Wong

Photo: Janice Wong/Facebook

Janice Wong originally wanted to follow in her parents’ footsteps by earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, but fate had other plans for her. Her love for pastries brought her to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu.

She improved her craft by working with renowned chefs including Spanish chocolatier Oriol Balaguer and world’s best pastry chef, Pierre Herme. After her stints in their kitchens, she went back to Singapore to open 2am:dessertlab and 2:am lab. Since then, she has expanded her brand by opening outlets in Japan and Hong Kong. Her next big project brings her closer to home—a dim sum restaurant at National Gallery Singapore which will open sometime this year.


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