Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Support Singaporean Chefs! Yew Eng Tong and Aaron Wong at the Bocuse d'Or Asia 2014

Because you have to, right?

It doesn't really matter whether or not you are Singaporean; hell, few of the guys in the photo below are!  But these very well-known and generous chefs are donating their skills and time for a fundraising lunch on Saturday, 31 May 2014 in support of Singapore's mission to bring home the ultimate honour in global cooking competitions: the Bocuse d'Or.

From top left (l to r): Stephane Istel, Bruno Menard, Julien Royer, Christophe Megel, Yew Eng Tong (Candidate), Frederic Colin, Khoo Wee Bin, Aaron Wong (commis)

What is it?

Paul Bocuse, MOF
The Bocuse d'Or, named after legendary French chef Paul Bocuse, is quite simply the nonpareil of global culinary competitions.  There is no real team to hide behind, no team members to pull you up should you flag, not to mention the pressure of being the sole representative for your country.  Much like the Olympics, if you don't perform on the day, it'll be over before you know it and you will have to wait another two years before you get another crack.

If you win the Bocuse d'Or, you get a golden statuette of Monsieur Paul, 20,000 euros and the privilege of joining a group of the world's most elite chefs who have won the title.  Think names like Léa Linster, Michel Roth MOF, three-Michelin-starred Régis Marcon and Mathias Dahlgren (whose Matsalen was, until recently, a fixture in the World's 50 Best Restaurants list).  The list of chefs who have competed in but never won the Bocuse d'Or is equally impressive: Hans Haas (Bronze Bocuse 1987), Yannick Alleno (Silver Bocuse, 1999), Philippe Mille (Bronze Bocuse, 2009), Timothy Hollingsworth (sixth place, 2009)...

How Does It Work?

Calling it the culinary Olympics is a little misleading.  It may be more accurate to call it a Culinary World Cup which takes place every odd-numbered year.

There are 24 places up for grabs in the World Finals, which always takes place in Bocuse's home city of Lyon.  There are effectively five confederations which hold qualifying tournaments to determine who gets to the World Finals: France (mais bien sûr!), Europe, Asia, Latin America and the USA.  The Bocuse d'Or Asia qualifying tournament is held every even-numbered year, with the top four Asian candidates going on to the World Finals.

Singapore has a very proud record in this competition, with William Wai winning the Bronze Bocuse back in 1989.  This is an amazing achievement considering Singapore's size, the relatively recent interest here in top-level French cooking and the fact that the United States has never placed higher than sixth in its competition history.  Yew Eng Tong, then of The Cliff, won the Bocuse d'Or Asia tournament in 2012.

Who is Representing Singapore this time?

Yew Eng Tong, now chef de cuisine at Cat Cora's Ocean Restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa, is once again Singapore's candidate for the 2014-5 cycle.  As noted above, Yew won the Asian leg in 2012 and went on to finish a credible 17th out of 24 contenders at the 2013 World Finals.

Chef Yew Eng Tong, representing Singapore
He is assisted by commis chef Aaron Wong, also from Ocean Restaurant.  Khoo Wee Bin, whom I remember from Aurum and who now works as a private chef, is the team coach.  Megel, the former CEO of at-Sunrice and now the owner of his own consultancy A-munition, is the President of Bocuse d'Or Singapore.

The Fundraising Lunch

To finetune your performance to such a high level takes practice and coaching, and practising on fine and expensive ingredients is, well, expensive, not to put too fine a point on it.

The stellar cast pictured at the start of this post is serving the lunch menu below at Bar-Roque Grill on Saturday, 31 May 2014 to raise funds to support Yew's crusade.  The two main dishes, Gratinated Scottish Salmon and Lamb & Sea Duo, were created by Yew for the Bocuse d'Or Asia competition, so you get to taste them before anyone else does!  Paired with these stunning dishes is a selection of wines from the Primum Familiae Vini (an association of twelve of the world's foremost family-owned wineries), sponsored by Monopole.


New Zealand Abalone with Caviar Duo
Stéphane Istel and Christophe Megel
Champagne – Pol Roger Brut Reserve Non-Vintage (White Foil); Epernay, France

55' Organic Egg,  Smoked Potato, Chorizo Iberico, Buckwheat
Frédéric Colin and Julien Royer
White Wine – 2010 Joseph Drouhin Chablis 1er Cru; Chablis, France

Scottish Salmon Gratinated with Almond Custard & Caramelized Almond
Khoo Wee Bin, Yew Eng Tong and Aaron Wong
White Wine – 2005 Hugel Riesling Jubilee; Alsace, France

Lamb & Sea Duo, with Chef’s Selection of Seaweed
Khoo Wee Bin, Yew Eng Tong and Aaron Wong
Red Wine – 2007 Nicolas Perrin Côte Rôtie; Rhone Valley, France

Vanilla and White Chocolate Cream, Passion Fruit, Mint Coulis, Pink Soft Macaroon & Raspberry Ganache
Bruno Menard
Port – Graham’s NV Six Grapes; Douro, Portugal

The price is S$1,000 nett, payable by cash or cheque only, with all proceeds going to the Singapore Chefs' Association to support the Bocuse d'Or mission.  The lunch is limited to 25 places, so you will have one top chef cooking for every 3.33 guests.

I haven't actually confirmed this, but if you contact Bar-Roque Grill on +65 6444 9672 or, I am sure they will be happy to take your booking!


We may not have a team at that other World Cup, but Yew is a very credible candidate and his experience two years ago will stand him in good stead.  The lunch is expensive, no doubt, but this is for a good cause, and I'm sure that guests will have an amazing gastronomic afternoon.

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