Cover DeAille Tam, chef and co-owner of Obscura in Shanghai (Photo: Asia's 50 Best)

The award marks Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants’ recognition of her creative flair in celebrating China’s culinary heritage

DeAille Tam, executive chef and co-founder of Obscura in Shanghai, has been named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2021. Bestowed as part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 programme, the award aims to continue the organisation’s mission to recognise positive role models and support inclusivity in Asia’s restaurant scene.

Tam affirmed that the award marks a major milestone in her career. She adds: "I am humbled that many industry leaders who I admire have followed my evolution in this industry. I hope to be able to inspire others to pursue their passion."

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Aptly set within Shanghai's three-storey Tang Xiang Cultural Space, which houses a private collection of ancient Chinese treasures, Obscura presents elegant interpretations of classic Chinese flavours, embracing Chinese traditions of food, wine, tea and incense, elevated through refined techniques and presentation.

Born in Hong Kong then relocated with her family to Canada at age 10, Tam had a different career path in mind, choosing to pursue a degree in engineering. But it was during this time, inspired by the need to prepare her own meals, that she discovered a passion for cooking. She left university and enrolled in the culinary program at George Brown College in Toronto and eventually earned a post-graduate degree in Italian cuisine. This was where she met her future husband and partner, Simon Wong, who similarly gave up his pursuit of a medical degree to study the culinary arts.

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Prior to opening Obscura in November 2020, the couple had embarked on a year-long journey to research the country’s diverse cuisines. This was their inspiration to launch their first restaurant with a menu that celebrates China’s culinary heritage in a contemporary context.

Tam had previously worked at Bo Innovation under the tutelage of acclaimed 'Demon Chef' Alvin Leung and became the first female chef in Mainland China to helm a Michelin starred restaurant when Bo Shanghai earned its star in 2018.

Tam’s achievements will be celebrated as part of the online ceremony for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 on March 25 at 4.30pm HKT/SG, which will be broadcast to a global audience via Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Facebook and the 50 Best Restaurants TV YouTube channel.

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