The Chefs of Singapore Who Make Us Proud

chef

I’ve been a COLLIN’S® member for almost a year and I just learnt something that many customers have yet to know – it has its very own team of award-winning chefs representing Singapore on the world stage!

chef
COLLIN’S® and e2i support the training and careers of local chefs on an international stage to represent Singapore in regional competitions. e2i CEO Gilbert Tan (in red) visited COLLIN’S® award-winning team at the new Elfuego restaurant to observe how projects under e2i’s grant have impacted their work and careers.

The Chef Who Overcame Dyslexia To Represent Singapore

Last year, I first got to know Chef Neo Jun Hao, who poured out his thoughts about overcoming dyslexia to represent Singapore in Bordeaux, France. He is one of several chefs who were hired by COLLIN’S® under the Place-and-Train programme with e2i.

chef
Chef Neo Jun Hao (in chef uniform) represented Singapore to win the second prize in the Jeunes Talents Escoffier competition and came in first for Best Chicken Award, not an easy feat with tough competition from around the world. (Source: DEI Cambodia FB Page)

At Bordeaux, the experience was a rollercoaster ride of preparations and emotions, and although he didn’t win the first prize, he is grateful for the strong support from all the people who supported him.

For example, he counts his blessings that COLLIN’S® and e2i believed in him and sponsored his training in Hong Kong for a month to prepare for the Jeunes Talent competition in France.

chef
After gaining competition experience, Chef Neo trains other chefs for competitions. He says “I count my blessings because I met so many supportive people. I’m loving what I’m doing at the company (COLLIN’S®).” (Source: Disciples Escoffier Singapore FB Page)

The First Singaporean To Win The Young Talent Escoffier World Culinary Competition

Chef Koh Han Jie, who was the first Singaporean contender to be crowned champion at the 2018 Young Talent Escoffier World Culinary Competition, is only 26 years old, but already has experience at two-Michelin starred Les Amis Singapore, Bread Street Kitchen and three-Michelin starred Maison Pic in Valence.

chef
COLLIN’S® Head Chef Koh Han Jie (right) and brother Chef Koh Han Wei at the new Elfuego restaurant at Jewel, Changi Airport.

Now Head Chef of COLLIN’S® under e2i’s Place-and-Train programme, Chef Koh curates the menu for Elfuego, COLLIN’S® newest Halal 80-seater restaurant at Jewel, Changi Airport, which features quality European cuisine created by COLLIN’S® award-winning team of local chefs.

“To curate a menu that can hopefully elevate the dining experience for all the diners, is definitely my biggest inspiration. Recently blessed with the Halal certification, this has opened up more opportunities to share our food with a wider audience. The feedback has been encouraging and we hope to continue improving on our menu and service to satisfy everyone,” he said.

chef
e2i CEO Gilbert Tan, Head Chef Koh Han Jie and Chef Neo Jun Hao in front of the Mibrasa Charcoal Oven that e2i partially funded to improve productivity at Elfuego’s kitchen. Since 2014, COLLIN’S® and e2i has embarked on several projects impacting over a hundred workers in the areas of productivity, job redesign, placement and training.

The Student Who Loved Cooking So Much, He Chose F&B Over Mainstream Academics

Chef Syahir Bin Osman joined COLLIN’S® under the Place-and-Train programme last year after graduating from Shatec with two diplomas in culinary skills and pastry-making.

chef
Under the Place-and-Train programme, Chef Syahir Bin Osman was given additional training in using the Mibrasa Oven and culinary skills required for his new role in Elfuego. He was promoted and received a pay raise upon completion of his probation and training.

“Being in this company gives us the opportunity to progress. I started out as a cook and three months later I was promoted to a demi-chef. So you can see the progression is there in the (Place-and-Train programme) and the individual can level up. I am thankful to be in this company. I enjoy serving food and seeing the sense of satisfaction connecting with people.

In Secondary School Food & Nutrition classes, I’ll be the one who was overexcited to cook and would prepare a lot of things, so it (my love of cooking) started from there. I’m a graduate of N Level and was supposed to take O levels, but I saw the calling of being in this line, so I took a leap of faith and took up Shatec instead,” he shared.

chef
Chef Syahir Bin Osman and Chef Neo Jun Hao present Elfuego’s new menu to guests. The menu includes a specially curated selection of appetizers such as the Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche, charcoal grilled meats using the Mibrasa Oven, seafood choices, and sharing platters for larger groups.

In Singapore, the majority of COLLIN’S® workforce is Singaporean, with a significant proportion of mature workers.

Since 2014, COLLIN’S® and e2i has embarked on several projects to help over a hundred workers in the areas of productivity, job redesign, placement and training.

Supporting a team of local chefs in training and gaining international exposure is just one of the many ways e2i has impacted local workers in their skills upgrading journey.

To learn more about how e2i helps workers with jobs and skills, visit here.

Special thanks to e2i and COLLIN’S® for the learning journey to Elfuego and the interviews with the talented chefs.

About Author

What do you want to tell others? Find me at jules <at> workersofsingapore (dot) com