Photo: Bill Ho and Ivan Yeo/Instagram
We love our food here in Singapore and it’s great to see Singapore chefs in all kinds of cooking endeavours. Whether you’re hunting down a well-kept secret hawker stall, or making a reservation at an in-demand Michelin-starred restaurant, it’s been well-proven that we will go above and beyond to try the latest food craze or fad.
Ahead of the Singapore Food Festival happening July 13-29, we’re highlighting five amazing Singapore chefs who are really making a name for themselves int his often cutthroat and brutal industry. Be sure to check out their establishments before everyone else does.
1. Bill Ho, chef and owner of 8 Café & Bar
Step into 8 Café & Bar, and you’d probably find a friendly Ho in the kitchen whipping up new culinary creations for his daily specials, or making his way among customers striking up conversations. Ho, a fitness buff, opened his cosy café at Bukit Pasoh Road in 2008 after discovering his love for hosting dinner parties among friends. The spot is now littered with personalised touches, such as antiques he sourced or his chalkboard drawings. Known for his love for fusion, he serves up gastronomical European dishes with an Asian flair (think har cheong gai served with either rice, quinoa or mashed sweet potatoes and laksa pasta). Hearty and satisfying fare, with a dash of charm.
2. Ivan Yeo, head chef and co-owner of The 1925 Brewing Co
Six years ago, Yeo was distraught after his design business failed. Fast forward to today, and he is now the proud chef and co-owner of a thriving microbrewery and restaurant, with plans for more outlets here and a distribution of their house beers regionally. Yeo and his uncle Yeo King Joey had opened the microbrewery in 2013 after the younger Yeo realised his uncle’s home brews were a hit among friends and relatives. Yeo complements the brews with his own unique creations that draw from his Teochew roots. From handmade pasta to heady smoked or barbecued meats, crispy chicken skin and beef brisket/charshu noodle soups, there’s plenty to munch on as you enjoy a refreshing IPA with your pals.
3. Enoch Teo, chef and owner of Garcons
Teo has come a long way from his troubled past. The secondary school drop-out has been upfront in the media about his teenage delinquency, speaking frankly about his experience with drugs and crime. He decided to turn his life around after entering a drug rehabilitation programme, and began his culinary journey at a humble tze char stall. After garnering some experience at a French restaurant as well as Restaurant Andre, he started his own business at Alibabar coffee shop before co-opening casual French bistro Garcons with friend Immanuel Tee (who has since sold his shares). Garcons is known for its restaurant-quality food at affordable prices, so expect comforting meals such as the glistening French Duck Leg Confit and crispy 12-hour Belly of Pork, or the decadent Classic Foie Gras that melts in your mouth.
4. Han Li Guang, chef-owner of the one Michelin-starred Labyrinth
This chef needs no introduction. Known for his acclaimed fine-dining restaurant Labyrinth, this banker-turned chef is making his mark with his experimental cuisine that he says is inspired by Singapore hawkers. The spot, which opened in 2014, came about after the London School of Economics and Political Science graduate quit his finance job and took a course at a culinary school. Expect innovative dishes showcasing local produce and traditions with a twist, such as the “Nasi Lemak” Cheong Fun that features the beloved snack with ikan bilis and chicken skin, or the “Ang Moh” Chicken Rice that comes with home-milled rice flour and braised chicken.
5. Jason Tan, chef patron and co-owner of the one Michelin-starred Corner House
The affable Tan looks like a cuddly teddy bear, but the Shatec-graduate certainly did not get where he is by being soft. Tan, who cut his culinary chops in renowned restaurants such as Les Amis, Le Saint Julien, Robuchon au Dome in Macau and Sky on 57, worked hard from the bottom before finally opening the beautiful Corner House at Botanic Gardens. The down-to-earth self-proclaimed HDB boy is known for employing young aspiring local chefs to work with him in the kitchen. Serving up elegant French-inspired gastro-botanica dishes, Tan’s meals – which highlight botanicals such as tubers, fruits, vines, roots and herbs – are a delight to dig into.