Tell us a bit about how you started your career. When did you realize that you have passion for food, and what triggered it?
I always loved watching my mom cooking – even though I never thought about cooking as a career. Then when I was 14, I started working in a restaurant as a dishwasher. I saw people with a lot of passion in the kitchen, people who committed to making other people happy. It was getting more interesting when finally I was handed a chef’s jacket after a few months washing dishes. Then nothing stopped me, I worked 18 hours a day, I kept learning and all. The job is not for everybody, but it’s definitely for me.
You have been working with some of the world best chefs during your career, which one of them inspired you the most (and why)?
Marco-Pierre White. He is a perfectionist; he doesn’t let one single thing slide in the kitchen. He doesn’t tolerate excuses, and he has an outstanding attention to details. But most of all, I have so much respect with the way he carries himself in public.
Tell us about your plan of the new establishment in Bali, Grow. What’s the concept? Is it similar to the one in Singapore?
Here in Bali I am shaping Grow as a sustainable business model together with local entrepreneurs and farmers. It will offer an all-day dining experience and a dynamic menu based on available produce, including healthy eating options, lots of greens, rustic handmade pastas, salads and fresh soups. You will see a little bit of Open Farm Community and Open Door Policy (my two other restaurants in Singapore).
What were you like in high school?
School is simply not for me. I didn’t even finish it. Well, I would love to finish it actually, but it’s not my calling. At that age I was already busy cooking.
Describe to us your cooking style in 1 sentence
My approach to cooking is based on flavours, aroma, ingredients and texture.
Tippling Club has been awarded as one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Could you share some of your tips on how to build, manage and maintain a restaurant in order to achieve such reward?
All goes down to your team. Yes you have to be constantly creative, but building loyal people behind you is the most important key. It is something I believe in. You have to be fair to your people, give them beautiful kitchen. I don’t keep my knowledge for myself, I share it with them, and I send them to training overseas as well. I respect them, every day we sit and eat together, talk and laugh.
If you were stranded in an empty island, tell us 3 things that you should have with you?
A good knife, a box of matches, and a best friend, i’m sure those things would make it easier for me to survive. And when you run out of food, you have one big piece of meat sitting next to you. Hahaha!
How do you want to be remembered?
Hopefully I would be remembered as somebody that contributes to the growth of world’s gastronomy industry.