Jake Kellie, Head Chef of Singapore’s Burnt Ends is Southeast Asia’s representative for the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 competition
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Jake Kellie, 27, head chef of Burnt Ends Singapore, is the winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef South East Asia Regional Final 2017. He will go on to Milan to compete in the world grand finals of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 on 11 to 13 May 2018. The last time the region was represented by a Singapore-based chef was in 2015, when Jaan’s Kirk Westaway had the honour.
Born on the central coast in New South Wales, Australia, Kellie moved to Singapore in January this year to take up the head chef role at Burnt Ends. He was formerly head chef at The Lakeside Mill in Packenham, Victoria and had worked at other restaurants such as Estelle Bistro and The Commoner. A young chef, but Kellie has already received accolades such as the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Young Chef 2015 award, and being a finalist for The Age Good Food Guide 2016 Young Chef of the Year award. He has also trained outside of Australia in restaurants like The Ledbury, Maze and The Fat Duck.
At the S.Pellegrino Young Chef South East Asia Regional Final 2017 held on 23 October at the Asian Culinary Institute of the Lifelong Learning Institute, Kellie and nine other semi-finalists from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India and the Maldives made and presented their dishes.
Kellie impressed the distinguished judges—Richard Ekkebus of Amber Restaurant at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong; Tetsuya Wakuda of Tetsuya’s in Australia and Waku Ghin in Singapore; Mingoo Kang of Mingles in South Korea; Chele Gonzalez of Gallery VASK in the Philippines; and Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room & Bar in Hong Kong—with his dish of pigeon aged in pepper leaves, hay and strawberry gum. He made the flavours of the dish stand out further by incorporating other native Australian ingredients like riberries and wattle seeds. As is customary, one of the judges from the regional panel will be mentoring the winner right up to the finals. That weighty task has been given to chef Ekkebus of Amber restaurant.
After the awards ceremony at CÉ LA VI that night, Kellie said that he was very humbled and happy to be chosen and would do his best to represent the region. Asked how he is planning to prepare for the grand final, he said, “Richard (Ekkebus) and I will have a good conversation. I think he is a phenomenal chef and he will drive me down the right path to succeed. We’ve had several conversations about this already and I’m looking forward to sitting down and really discussing how we are going to make this a dish that is going to win. I think it’s 80 per cent there. With that remaining 20 percent or more from Richard, it will be outstanding.”
For now, he heads back to business as usual at Burnt Ends. His admiration for chef-owner Dave Pynt is apparent when he says, “You don’t stop when you work at a restaurant like Burnt Ends and have a chef like Dave pushing you all the time. He’s a phenomenal chef, one of the best I’ve ever worked for, and I will work for him for a long time. He’s a really good guy and I have a lot of heart for him.”