LEONG CHEE YENG
: What made you decide upon a career in the kitchen? Have you always wanted to be a chef?
Leong: I left school at the age of 15 with little ambition. As my uncle had a restaurant at the time in Malaysia, I was sent to work in the kitchen. The more I learnt, the more cooking started to pique my interest.
: Prior to The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, where did you work?
L: From 2003 to 2007, I was Chinese Executife chef of the highly acclaimed Zheng He’s restaurant at Mina A’Salam at the Madinat Jumeirah resort in Dubai.
: What would you say have been the highlights of the last decade at Jade? L: Receiving the World Gourmet Summit award was definitely one of the highlights, but being able to express myself through a variety of creative outlets has also meant a lot to me. Four years ago, I started Yu Sheng calligraphy during the Lunar New Year season at Jade and in tribute to Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, during SG50 I held my first personal art exhibition “Ceramics Indulgence” ( ) at the East Garden Foyer of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
Since first joining The Fullerton Hotel Singapore as chef de cuisine of Jade restaurant back in 2007, Chef Leong has continued to build upon his long-standing reputation for culinary excellence, a fact recognised at the recent World Gourmet Summit Awards where he netted the coveted title of Majestic
Restaurant Asian Cuisine Chef of the Year 2016.
: You have some amazing signature dishes – do you have a personal favourite? L: Yes, my wok-fried diced beef tenderloin with sliced garlic in black pepper sauce. It took a lot of work to get exactly what I wanted in terms of consistency and flavour.
: Perhaps unusually your menus feature a mix of regional Chinese styles – how do you ensure authenticity?
L: I study the style of the cuisine to understand the main ingredients used in each dish, then draw inspiration from different interpretations of it. I try to understand how it is cooked and experiment with reinterpreting the flavours through form or technique. From this research, I create a regional Chinese dish that bears authentic characteristics.
: Can you tell us a bit about the outof-menu experience you have been championing over recent years?
L: I have a regular guest who shares his thoughts with me on how he would like his dishes prepared in Jade, which often sparks new ideas. Once he requested a crab dish without its shell, so I made a crab salad with crab claw and Thai chilli. I feel a particular connection with this guest as he is in the lumber business, just as my father was, and we have a similar interest in the arts.
: What are the challenges that chefs face in Singapore?
L: For a small country, we have a lot of dining options and new restaurants open daily. It’s a competitive landscape and we have to create something new to continually delight our guests.
: What can guests look forward to in 2017? L: With Jade recently undergoing a restoration, my philosophy is to continue providing consistency for our diners to enjoy high quality cuisine within our newly transformed interiors.
: Away from the kitchen, what do you do for fun?
L: Possessing a deep appreciation for the arts, I enjoy ceramic making and Chinese painting in my free time.
: Any advice for budding chefs?
L: My advice is to set your own rules in the kitchen and always be hungry to learn more about each ingredient. Honing your culinary skills requires a lot of passion and dedication, so do not be afraid to work hard.
Assorted Dim Sum