Flavours of Singa

FOLLOWING THE success of the recent Singapore Chilli Crab Festival, in Dubai, The Singapore Tourism Board held a week-long celebration of national gastronomic delights during the 'Tasty Singapore Food Festival' at the Radisson SAS Hotel Dubai.

By Joyce Njeri (Staff Writer)

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Published: Fri 23 Mar 2007, 11:58 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:46 PM

Singapore’s internationally renowned celebrity chef, Violet Oon, has been overseeing the promotion, which ended yesterday at the new restaurant, Chef’s House. Guests as well as the media were taken through the preparation of authentic Singaporean meals and desserts and also got a chance to sample a wide variety of Singaporean delicacies. Violet Oon is known as much for her cooking as for her opinions on food. She’s considered one of the leading authorities on Asian cuisine on the international scene. As a writer, jazz singer and professional cook, Ms Oon has her hands full.

She took sometime off her busy schedule and granted an interview with City Times, about her most exceptional culinary experience. Here are the exerpts from the interview.

You really have an impressive portfolio spanning some good years of culinary experince. Is that the reason why you are referred as a celebrity chef?

My reputation spans the international scene and I often represent Singapore as a food ambassador abroad. I work with Asia Pacific Breweries of Singapore as a food consultant, pairing its wide range of drinks with food in particular with the world acclaimed Tiger brand. In August 2006 I was was sent to London by the Singapore Tourism Board to cook up a storm at the Tiger Brand Chilli Crab Festival. I also organised a very successful series of Bee Gourmet Dinners for APBS in 2003 for the Singapore Food Festival.

My culinary career has included heading the Singapore team of chefs at the Culinary Institute of America’S Worlds of Flavours festival at the Napa Valley Campus in late 2004.

Earlier that year, I was invited to make a presentation on Singapore food for the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) annual conference in Baltimore to much acclaim. I have represented Singapore as the food ambassador to USA, Britain and Australia to chef at food promotions.

What is your favourite cuisine?

My speciality is the Nonya cuisine.

Do you have a cookbook to share your recipes with others or if not are you intending to have one?

Yes, I have written three cookbooks. I most recently worked on Naturally Peninsula – Flavours, the cookbook of the world renowned Peninsula Hotel chain of Hong Kong, working with recipes from its seven properties round the world, including Hong Kong, Beverly Hills, New York, Chicago, Manila, Bangkok and Beijing.

I am also a leading food consultant and my most recent project was as the Food&Beverage Consultant for the four official social events at the IMF/World Bank 2006 meetings in Singapore.

Why did you choose to showcase your culinary prowess in Dubai?

With most of the ingredients and flavours used at the food festival being products of leading food manufacturers in Singapore, we decided to present the most authentic flavours of Singapore foods to an international audience. We will also actively promote Singapore food products to the UAE market and hopefully, we'll see more Singapore foods available here very soon.

Chef, did you cook growing up?

Yes, but I started later in my teenage years. My father's family has a history of being in the business, it was natural therefore for me but what propelled me is the interest and desire.

What made you decide to become a professional cook?

Passion and Desire. Besides that I have a background in sociology and an interest in learning different cultures. I believe the only way to learn people's culture is getting to know more about their food specialities.

Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?

Know your limitations and build slowly your skills. Do not be intimidated and have the right equipment in your kitchen. Quality, passion and love must go into everything you do.

Speaking of equipment, what is your Favourite kitchen gadget?

My favourite gadget is the knife. Of course you cannot start cooking without a knife and that is why I really value my knife.

When at home, what do you like to eat?

I am overweight and therefore for me when I am at home I like eating vegetables and fruits and I also take lots of steamed food, since I enjoy the naturals flavours of food.

What is the future plan for Chef Oon?

I intend to keep cooking... cooking and cooking.

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