Interview with Chef Edmund Toh, President, Singapore Chefs Association Director, Culinary Studies, SHATEC

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{Exclusive Interview with Chef Edmund Toh}

Our Parenting World (OPW) Team is very excited and honoured to interview Singapore’s well-known Chef Edmund Toh. Chef Edmund Toh is currently the Director, Culinary Studies & Operation at Shatec Institutes. Before joining Shatec, he was the Assistant Vice President of Food & Beverage Culinary at Resorts World Sentosa, responsible for more than 30 kitchens across Singapore’s first integrated resort. 

Chef Edmund Toh is also the President of the Singapore Chefs Association, he is well-respected as a mentor to the next generation of aspiring chefs. 

1) We are very excited to know about “The Sapling” inaugural Gourmet night. Can you share more with our readers on how this idea came about and what can diners expect from dining at “The Sapling”?

We are in an industry where we need to be constantly creative to attract diners. Apart from working with resident Chefs, we bring in established and celebrity chefs to SHATEC to introduce special promotions to introduce different menus to diners. In our industry, we have very established culinary experts like Chef Justin Quek of Sky on 57 of Marina Bay Sands, Chef Yew Eng Tong from Ocean Restaurant and Jason Tan of Corner House Restaurant.

The Sapling, introduced “Gourmet Food Night” which is a monthly dining night, inviting different chefs each month to prepare set course menus for diners. It is SHATEC’S intention to give back to society by showcasing special talents, thus giving opportunities to add on to everybody’s dining experience as well as to enable students to work with and be coached by the celebrity experts. The students in turn, are usually very motivated by the rare experiences which makes it a memorable learning journey. Parents are also comforted that their children are pursuing a course in a reputable school.

Due to very good responses in the past, we have, lined up celebrity chefs for our monthly “Gourmet Night” till October 2016.

1. 20 May 2016 Singapore National Culinary Team
2. 26 May 2016 Chef Otto Weibel (Board member of Shatec)  and Chef Ernst Huber (Veteran Chef and Founding member of the Singapore Chef Association)
3. June 2016

Chef Yen Koh (Unilever Foodsolutions) ex captain in world competition

 

4. July 2016 Chef Derrick Ang (Executive Chef of Mount Faber Leisure Group)
5. August 2016 Chef Daniel Sia (Founder of Disgruntled Chef)
6. September 2016 Chef Benjamin Tan (White Rabbit) and Chef Robin Ho (The Privé Group and formerly from Marmalade Pantry)

Diners can expect very reasonable rates for a set course meal (usually priced above $150 in various restaurants) with no compromise in standards and quality.

2) Chef Edmund, you joined SHATEC in August 2014. What are the developments/progress you have witnessed from then till now?

I observed initially, that there was a huge gap between the professional and junior/learning chefs. There was also a shortage of culinary manpower. I decided that for connectivity within the industry and globally, mentorship would be a solution. During every intake, promising and committed students would be identified for further exposure under the right mentorship. Mentees are thus groomed to assist at special and national events and learn from culinary experts. Bridging learning chefs with industrial mentors is an achievement which has provided the path for many aspiring chefs to be well received in Europe and America.

3) Can you tell us more about your team of Chefs and Instructors at SHATEC?

SHATEC is fortunate to have the support of its Alumnus. We have local and internationally recognized chefs to nurture talents and they are part of the strong academic team. We are also governed by a distinguished Board and an Advisory Council to ensure that global standards are met. Some of our distinguished team members are Chefs Stephen Ong, Saw Han Hun, Lim Swee Ann, Samson, Gerald Cheok Khoon Loong and Nicholas Lim.

SHATEC has been in the industry for over 30 years and many of its graduates are now internationally recognized. Similarly, international academies are looking to collaborate with SHATEC. Cilantro Culinary Academy of Malaysia and a Korean University have plans to collaborate with SHATEC to provide further certification for their graduates by completing a course in SHATEC. These are some of the many achievements witnessed by SHATEC over the years.

4) What’s your advice to those who are seeking for a career change to the culinary industry?

There is a wide range of courses offered by SHATEC, specializing in Hotel Management, Food and Beverage, Culinary and Pastry as well as Tourism. SHATEC also offers workforce skills qualifications (WSQ) courses with funding and further savings offered by SkillsFuture for Singaporean and Singapore PR applicants.

For those intending to seek a career change, it is advisable to have the full support of your family or partner to undertake and complete a course successfully. I have witnessed several high ranking personnel, who have undertaken and completed full time programs successfully with the support of their loved ones. These people are also grouped to mentors to ensure maximum help in facilitating a career change.

5) What can students expect, when they start training at SHATEC and what are their career prospects after they have completed their training?

Choosing a desired pathway, most suited to one’s capabilities and goals is a key to success. We can’t speak on behalf of all students. Some join out of genuine interests, some develop interests during the course and some join due to parental pressure. Industrial attachments in the form of internships enable students to decide on their preferred pathway. Eventually, some students do not join the industry upon graduation or may not complete the course. Others do become successful suppliers or join the sales profession as the knowledge and expertise gained are beneficial for their career progression. Graduates also become hotel, restaurant or production chefs depending on the time they are willing to spend in the profession. Hotels and Restaurants Chefs though have to sacrifice time by working at irregular hours are most exposed to learning and improving their skills whereas production chefs tend to focus on big quantities rather than plated dishes. In all cases, graduates can be assured that they are equipped with lifelong skills which are useful on a daily basis as well as being internationally recognized.

The curriculum for the professional courses is manageable with many practical and theoretical progress tests to ensure that students are not lagging behind. Majority perform well due to the guidance provided.

6) On a personal note, what is your best tip for those who want to learn how to cook?

Technology is playing an important role currently and will continue to, in time to come. Technology has the ability to attract newcomers to cooking. A simple culinary equipment can now facilitate ordinary cooking to culinary excellence with a variation of dishes. A simple machine can cook porridge, vegetable puree soups and assorted shakes, blend soya bean. This can be very inspiring for a layman who can make simple dishes with a machine and with any type of fruits, vegetables, cereals in their home. In most cases, they would be interested to familiarize themselves with recipes to produce varied dishes.

7) Chef Edmund, what’s your favorite food and the favorite dishes you would like to cook for your family/friends?

Laksa is my favorite and I use it to cook dishes from breakfast to dinner for my family and friends. Westerners are now very familiar with Laksa. Laksa can be prepared in various versions ranging from Thai, Penang and Nonya and Western. Laksa can be used as a base for fried rice, any type of noodles, marinated beef or fish. Further, Laksa can be used as a component to add other ingredients such as ginger torch, Thai basil and western herbs. Italian dishes such as risotto and pasta can also be prepared with Laksa.
As an example, Laksa Nasi Lemak or porridge can be prepared for breakfast. Laksa fried rice can be prepared for lunch. For tea, Laksa pie, Laksa with beancurd skin, Laksa mee goreng, Laksa sherbet or Laksa coconut milk ice cream can be prepared. Creative menus can thus be prepared just by using Laksa as a base.

SHATEC’s courses can equip a student to master such skills and enhance creativity for varied dining experience.

8) Any last words that you would like to share with our readers about SHATEC’s “The Sapling” and “Gourmet Nights”?

We have regular guests, including elderlies who have complimented the students, services and menus. Most have provided feedback to create more awareness on the Sapling for other diners to enjoy. The Sapling can also be used as an event venue to host family gatherings, baby shower and birthday parties. Hi-tea buffets can also be organized. We will be collaborating with our partners to customize team building for corporate events. As an example, participants can be divided into 3 groups each focusing on culinary, pastry or cocktail preparation. They will then be brought to the Redhill market to shop for ingredients for a stipulated amount and prepare dishes as a team. Surprise team building activities can also be organized for maximum hands on experience.

Thank you Chef Edmund Toh for taking our interview and wishing you all the best in your future endeavours! 

Additional Information: 

SHATEC was set up in 1983 by the Singapore Hotel Association to equip Singapore’s hospitality industry with a skilled workforce. Since then, SHATEC has distinguished itself as one of Singapore’s most recognised hospitality schools with many of its 30,000 strong alumni from more than 20 countries helming key positions in the hospitality and tourism industry. In 1992, SHATEC received the prestigious “Most Outstanding Contribution to Tourism” award from the Singapore Tourism Board. It is also the first institution to be inducted into the World Gourmet Summit Hall of Fame in 2009 for winning the Culinary Institution of the Year award for 4 consecutive years (2001 to 2004).

SHATEC Institutes Pte Ltd

Address: 21 Bukit Batok St 22 Singapore 659589

Phone: 64153588

Fax: 64153530

Website: http://www.shatec.sg/

The Sapling

Owned and managed by SHATEC, The Sapling is a training restaurant for the institution’s students enrolled in the various programmes. In addition to school-based lessons and an industrial attachment, The Sapling provides practicum training to the students, exposing them to real-life situations that they are likely to encounter in the workplace. This provides students with a holistic education that will stand them in good stead in the hospitality industry. Open on all days except Sunday and public holidays, The Sapling serves a wide variety of classic and contemporary Western-Asian cuisine at affordable mid-range prices.

The Sapling 

Address: Enabling Village, 20 Lengkok Bahru, Academy Block, #01-17, Singapore 159053

Phone: (65) 6472 0933

Email: reservations@thesapling.sg

For more information, please visit http://thesapling.sg.

* Article brought to you by Shobana N, Senior Writer and Our Parenting World (OPW) Team.

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