PAYING IT FORWARD
With little fanfare, Disciples Escoffier International, Singapore Delegation is doing its bit to groom rising chefs
Since it was officially inaugurated last year, the Singapore chapter of Disciples Escoffier—a 30,000-strong global network celebrating the spirit of Auguste Escoffier, father of modern French cuisine—has been hard at work, organising events and supporting activities that espouse Escoffier values, namely, equality among members, sharing knowledge, respect for culinary culture and innovation, and giving back to society.
IN GOOD COMPANY
Disciples Escoffier International, Singapore Delegation counts illustrious members of the local chef community as members. But D@E, Singapore is not just a grouping for chefs; it’s for anyone who believes in Escoffier’s ethos. Their gourmet dinner last November was graced by Michel Escoffier, great grandson of Auguste Escoffier, and supported by the Embassy of France in Singapore.
With the support from e2i, D@E, Singapore will orchestrate and partner with an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) for a new venture in 2019: The Escoffier Symposium.
Overseas master chefs will be invited to the Symposium as speakers, sharing the trick of the trade with passion and excitement on how they continue to learn and evolve.
Other than strengthening culinary networks and fundraising for good causes, a key tenet of D@E, Singapore’s mission is to nurture the next generation of chefs through the annual Young Talents Escoffier (YTE) competition. Last year, Singapore’s representative, 24-year-old Koh Han Jie made history when he represented Singapore at the YTE Asia selection held in Hong Kong, winning the Asian selection for the first time.
Not only that, under the mentorship of national culinary coach chef Khoo Wee Bin, (director, Culinary Training at HCSA) and chef Edmund Toh (honorary president, D@E, Singapore), he went on to Zurich earlier this year, clinching the YTE world title. Accompanied by Toh, Jessica Prevost, secretary-general of D@E, Singapore, Laurent Brouard, group executive chef of Bistro Du Vin, and Justin Chow, a student from SHATEC, Koh impressed the international panel of judges by making the best dish using every part of two farm chickens, including a pomme fondante (fondant potato) using the technique as described in Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire or A Guide to Modern Cookery (1982).
This year, 24-year-old Neo Jun Hao, better known as Hobbit, hopes to follow in his footsteps. The former chef de partie of Ding Dong came up tops in the YTE Singapore
selection 2018 with his dish of poularde à la Paysanne or poached chicken breast in aromatic court-bouillon, chicken roulade with herbs chicken mousse, thyme confit winglet, savoury mushroom tartlet, and potato de terre à la crème, served with Allemande sauce. He will be going on to Hong Kong this September to vie for the Asian prize at Restaurant & Bar Hong Kong, held at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Accompanied by Prevost, Koh, in his capacity as YTE world champion 2018 and Neo’s trainer, as well as chef mentor from the Singapore national culinary team, Anderson Ho, executive chef (airline catering) and business development manager for Snorre Food, Neo will be preparing a salmon fillet for eight persons with three garnishes and a classic sauce Genevoise by chef Patrick Heuberger.
Says Neo of the mentorship he is receiving from Koh, Ho and Patrick, “It’s such an honour to be mentored by them. One is the former YTE world champion while the other has mentored the Singapore national team. To prepare for the upcoming YTE Asia selection, Hanjie has been helping me by sharing with me his experience, and giving tips about how I should approach the competition. Because the main protein for the competition is salmon, chef Anderson, who’s an expert in fish, has been particularly helpful, advising me about the technique of handling the salmon, from cutting to cooking and improving my timings. I’m still finalising the concept for my dish but I’m looking forward to the competition.”
Neo will arrive in Hong Kong four days before YTE competition and to continue his training in Bistro Du Vin, helmed by Singaporean chef Peter Teo.
BETTER THINGS AHEAD
But their development and growth do not end with competitions. Building on his success so far, Koh will be challenging himself even more by taking on the role of head chef at El Feugo, a new contemporary European restaurant by Collin’s, a brand that won double accolades at the Singapore Prestige Brand Award 2017 for Promising Brands and Most Popular Promising Brand. This restaurant is slated to open at Jewel Changi Airport when it is ready in the first half of next year. Assisting him will be chef de partie Neo.
All this is made possible by Toh, who apart from his roles with Escoffier, is also vice president–culinary at Collin’s. He sees it all as part of letting the young chefs test their mettle. Says Toh, “Both of them have been trained well through mentorship by established chefs such as Khoo Wee Bin, Anderson Ho and Patrick Heuberger. They are both very passionate, determined, competent, and willing to accept professional criticism. Through guidance by Chef Collin and myself, we hope to groom them into promising young chefs that can lead the F&B industry.”
With such support from the industry, we can expect great things from these young disciples of Escoffier.
Neo Jun Hao
Koh Han Jie
Khoo Wee Bin
Neo’s winning dish: Poularde à la Paysanne