From serving up Michelin-approved contemporary Asian-inflected Western fare to nostalgic Peranakan fare, these young and ambitious chefs are the new culinary trailblazers in the local F&B industry.
Kevin Wong, 26, Executive Sous Chef at Meta
This young upstart doesn’t have his own restaurant yet, but he’s definitely still one to keep on your radar, having shown his potential by winning the 2019-2020 S.Pellegrino Young Chef Asia regional finals (the global competition’s Grand Finale has been postponed to May 2021). His dish, Celebration of a Duck (above), showcases his innovation and penchant for local flavours while utilising every part of the animal—from the heart (seasoned with curry spices and stuffed with herbs) right down to the neck and backbone (turned into a jus that pulls the dish together beautifully). The breast, in particular, is inspired by our hawker cuisine, cooked over charcoal, glazed with a reduction of mirin and finished with kinome leaves. Taste this—along with other Michelin-approved contemporary Asian-inflected Western fare— at Meta. Visit metarestaurant.sg.
Lisa Tang, 25, Co-founder and Chef of Kausmo
Inspired by her time at award-winning farm-to-table Maine restaurant Primo, this 2019 World Gourmet Summit Rising Female Chef nominee puts sustainability front and centre at Kausmo, the restaurant she co-founded with friend Kuah Chew Shian. Presenting flavourful dishes prepared with ingredients that have been sustainably sourced, or that fulfil the three Os (overstocked, over-ripened, and oddly shaped and sized), Tan seeks to provoke deeper thought about the food practices of today, highlighting, for instance, how a preference for prime cuts of meat and aesthetically pleasing produce contribute to food wastage. While the visuals are decidedly Western (Tan’s experience includes stints at Pollen, Jaan and Les Amis), the dishes themselves nod to both the region and her Teochew heritage. Think humble fish porridge elevated with Java ginseng and coriander tossed with preserved plum dressing. In line with the 16-seater restaurant’s ethos, the menu is carte blanche, with a six-course meal at an affordable $75++. Visit kausmo.com.
Chong Jun Xiang, 29, Head Chef at Indigo Blue Kitchen
Hand-picked by Les Amis Group’s Chairman Desmond Lim to helm its new Peranakan concept, Chong shows his mettle with brilliant executions of traditional recipes passed down from Lim’s grandmother—this despite not being a Baba himself and having no prior exposure to the cuisine (he cut his teeth at Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare, Alma by Juan Amador and 1880). The popiah, for instance, satiates with a delightful filling that’s rich in the flavours of the prawn, pork, garlic and fermented bean sauce
it’s been braised in. His adeptness also shines in classics such as Prawns Chilli Garam and Nonya Chap Chye, which looks deceptively simple but is actually difficult to ace, given the different cooking times required for the ingredients. Visit indigobluekitchen.com.sg.