As more and more celebrity chef restaurants are opening up in Singapore, the job becomes increasingly intriguing to youngsters. However, many inspired want-to-be chefs forget the tough and stoney way they have to walk, before they reach Gordon Ramsey stardom. Episodes of Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef give us a glimpse of what it is like. We asked Clubvivre chefs about advice for young and aspiring cooks that are just starting out.
Chef Felix Chong has worked in 3-Star Michelin restaurants around the world and specialised in Italian cuisine for over 12 years. The best advice he has for younger chefs is the same advice he got when he was young – respect the ingredients. “Almost always, the best way to bring out the flavour is by using simple cooking techniques and by treating the ingredient the way it should be”, explains Felix Chong. Young chefs often want to go straight into molecular gastronomy, but one needs to understand the basics first. After that the sky is the limit.
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A 10 Years Sentence
Becoming a well-respected chef means more than just showing up for work every day. Singaporean veteran chef Eric Low said that if you really want to “see what kind of food the big world out there can offer you, then you won’t be having a life with others for at least 10 years”. The job is so demanding in the early to mid term phrases that many just give up.
Don’t Become a Chef
There are many reasons to start the career of a chef, but there are just as many reasons that will keep up from it. Chef Andrew Ng has culinary expertise in Japanese and French fine dining and advises youngsters “don’t become a chef – unless you are prepared to burn weekends, work long hours, get burnt yourself, get cuts and scolded”.
New chefs come often with the preconceived notion that they want to be the next Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey. They see the glamour of it and want instant gratification. “My family has been very supportive”, says chef Andrew Ng, “though it can be very difficult due to the long hours”.
Hang in there!
Although the beginning of a chef’s career is hard and draining, it can pay off eventually – financially, spiritually and creatively. Local chef Kingsley Tan has many years of experience and made it to TV. He can be seen on ‘Simply Exquisite’ and ‘Say it 2’ on Channel 8 and Channel 5’s ‘Wok Stars’. Chef Kingsley always advises to “be passionate about your food and your work. Don’t give up easily, even during those days when you have to stand for 16 hours in the kitchen.” Once you get over these hurdles, you can start nurturing yourself at an executive level, he says. So hang in there folks!
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