They are still in the process of formalising themselves as an entity, but a new grouping to be called Disciples Escoffier International – Singapore Delegation, is planning to nurture a new generation of Singapore chefs—from the ground up.
The culinary association Disciples of Escoffier was started in 1954 in Nice, France, as a fraternity that upholds the legacy of Auguste Escoffier, father of modern French cooking. Now, under the name Disciples Escoffier International (DEI), it has more than 25,000 members in 26 countries. All are committed to the spirit of Escoffier, namely, values like equality among members, sharing knowledge, respect for culinary culture and innovation, and giving back to society.
Singapore has regularly been sending young chefs to compete in the Disciples Escoffier Young Talent Trophy competition organised by DEI Asia in Hong Kong. The competition pits the skills of chefs under 25 with not more than five years of restaurant or hotel experience. The winner is given a chance to compete in the world finals in France.
This year’s edition in September 2017 is no exception. This time, however, Singapore’s representative will be sent under the auspices of the newly established and soon to be launched DEI – Singapore Delegation, headed by the new president of the group, Emmanuel Stroobant, chef-owner of Saint Pierre. The grouping currently has 10 members including honorary president chef Edmund Toh (President of the Singapore Chefs Association) and honorary founder chef Sandro Falbo, executive chef of Fullerton/Fullerton Bay Hotel. It hopes to expand the membership to about 50 by the end of the year, and over time, about 200 members.
Chef Stroobant stressed that DEI – Singapore Delegation will not be a chef’s club. “Anybody who has the knowledge, and who feels like they are ready to pass their knowledge to the next generation are welcome to join.”
Young Talents Escoffier Competition Singapore 2017
To kick things off, the group organised the Young Talents Escoffier Singapore Competition 2017 under the umbrella of DEI Asia at The Sapling, Enabling Village on 13 May 2017. Seven young chefs—Koh Han Jie, chef de partie, Les Amis restaurant; Kuah Hwee Loong, senior chef de partie, Les Amis restaurant; Lionel Leo, intern, Saint Pierre; Ho Si Wee, student, ITE; Chew Keefe, student, Shatec; Venderick Wee, trainee, Fullerton Bay Hotel; Ungku Muhammad Imran, student, Shatec—faced off to see who could produce the best main course featuring loup de mer (European seabass), sauce Bretonne and asparagus a la Polonaise with the help of Auguste Escoffier’s cookbook recipes.
Contestants were judged on kitchen criteria like hygiene, food safety and sanitation, knife skills etc, and graded on criteria such as the harmony of flavours in their dishes and application of appropriate cooking principles and methods.
Koh Han Jie, chef de partie of two-Michelin starred Les Amis restaurant emerged the winner with his dish of poached sea bass, cured sea bass croquette, asparagus a la Polonaise, glazed leeks and celery, charred onions and sautéed mushrooms served with sauce Bretonne.
Prior to joining Les Amis, Koh had previously worked in Marina Bay Sands for six months with Sky on 57 and Breadstreet Kitchen, and completed an internship with chef Anne Sophie Pic from three Michelin-starred Maison Pic, Valence. He said he was very happy about winning the Singapore selection, but anticipated a tougher challenge at the Asia finals in Hong Kong. On the special touches he added to his winning dish, he said, “I tried to present the four vegetables from my sauce Bretonne (leeks, mushrooms, onions and celery) using different cooking methods and serving them on the side. For instance, I glazed the leeks with butter and sugar, and peeled off the fibres so they would be tender on the inside. For the onions, I charred them a bit to give them a nice flavour. And I used the trimmings from my sea bass to make a croquette.”
Charlotte Rath, Business Development Manager Food Service, Lactalis, said Koh’s dish impressed her and the other judges. He was a cut above in terms of organising his work station and creating flavours on the plate that worked well together within the given brief.
Disciples Escoffier Epicurean Dinner
Before Koh gears up for the Disciples of Escoffier Young Talent Trophy 2017 competition in Hong Kong this September, he will be putting up his winning dish this Thursday at Disciples Escoffier Asia in Singapore’s first Disciples Escoffier Epicurean Dinner featuring Michelin-starred chefs.
- Michael Michaelidis from three Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon – Imperial caviar with crustaceans’ jelly and cauliflower smoothness
- Kirk Westaway from one Michelin-starred Jaan – Heirloom tomato, burrata cheese and basil sorbet
- Masakazu Ishibashi from two Michelin-starred Shoukouwa – Hay smoked buri, ohba leaf, myoga, shoyu and red vinegar yamagata rice
- Emmanuel Stroobant from Saint Pierre – canapés and mentorship of Koh Han Jie, chef de partie from Les Amis and winner of Young Talents Escoffier Singapore competition 2017 while the latter puts up his winning main course featuring Loup de mer, sauce Bretonne and Asparagus a la Polonaise
- Laurent Brouard from Bistro du Vin – Assorted affine cheese selection, mesclun, walnut and spicy pear condiment
- Jonathan Allaert from Saint Pierre – Manjari chocolate, cocoa-hazelnut praline, passion fruit caramel, vanilla parfait
- Felicien Cueff from Feliciengourmand – Coconut water jelly with lemon granite
The dinner is open to the public ($280++ per person) and part of the proceeds will go towards helping less privileged students fund their culinary studies in Singapore. Bookings can be done through Fenella Findlater at +65 91400436 / Fenella@one15marina.com.