The culinary world has always been competitive and it’s more so in today’s world. With the dawning of the Asian Century, the food industry is moving faster than ever towards fusing Asian cuisines. Food enthusiasts are no longer settling for familiar, great tasting dishes; they are in constant search for the next trendy dish or cuisine.
Chef Edmund Toh is no stranger when it comes to dealing with new waves of food trends. With over 35 year experience in the food industry, the chef has come a long way from being a kitchen porter to become the President of Singapore Chefs Association. Prior to this, he was running Singapore’s largest banquet kitchen at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) with a crew of 600 chefs and cooks. Chef Edmund has personally cooked for many famous guests, including former U.S. President George W. Bush, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and professional golf player, Tiger Woods.
He is also a much respected mentor when he joined Shatec Institutes (SHATEC) as the Director Culinary Studies & Operations in 2014. As a veteran chef and culinary educator, Chef Edmund reveals that the culinary education industry started off predominately focused on western cuisine but it has gradually evolved with more Asian influences. Today, it is known as fusion cuisine which has incorporated many elements of Asian spices and culture, revolutionising the culinary world and adapting to the ever-changing eating habits of consumers.
Chef Toh says: “New concepts of fusion cuisine are constantly being experimented by chefs around the world. The experiments and innovations are ways to achieve breakthrough in this competitive industry. Since the industry is booming with such new ideas, a chef should never lose sight of keeping the basics right and menus simple. As a culinary educator, teaching students to master basic culinary techniques and encouraging the use of Asian spices enhance the flavour of the dishes created. This is a study of traditional recipes but with a twist.”
He continues, “With the rise of growing influences from China, India and development in IndoChina, there’s opportunities in improving one’s skill through crosslearning. SHATEC encourages students to broaden their knowledge through overseas field trips, cultural exchange programmes and participation in overseas competition. Such activities will expose students to different cultures and enable them to share best practices. They also learn how to incorporate other culture’s uniqueness into different dishes.”
SHATEC has collaborated with many partners to bring rich and educational experiences to its students. One recent collaboration includes the cultural exchange programme with Meiho University in Taiwan.
A group of students from SHATEC and Meiho University had the opportunity to learn each other’s food culture and culinary curriculum. At the end of the programme, the students were given a platform to showcase their innovativeness and creativity in fusing both cultures in a grand food show.
Although students are given a more structured academic programme and have mentors to guide them, Chef Toh advises budding talents and new graduates to take every opportunity as a learning experience and every mistake as part of their growth.
“Leverage on mentors for guidance and learn from their wealth of experience. With knowledge and wisdom handin- hand, you will be on the path to become great chefs,” concludes Chef Edmund Toh.