First Singapore chef wins annual Young Talent Escoffier Asia competition

Koh Han Jie wins Young TAlent, practiced for this competition within his shifts and managed to rope in Chef Khoo Wee Bin to be his mentor.

Chef Koh Han Jie
Chef Koh Han Jie Facebook/Chef Koh Han Jie

Singapore Chef Koh Han Jie wins Annual Yung Talent Escoffier's Asia Culinary competition in Hong Kong. He will be seen in the world finals in March.

It is the first time a Singapore chef has won the decade-old competition since the Republic started fielding candidates six years ago.

This competition for young chefs under the age of 25 is organized by the Disciples Escoffier Asia to honour the late distinguished French Chef Auguste Escoffier. He is also widely recognized as the father of modern culinary arts.

24-year-old Chef De Partie, Koh Han Jie, working at a two- Michelin starred French restaurant in Les Amis at Shaw Centre, defeated seven other contestants in Asia, including from the Philippines, Macau, and Thailand. He will go on to represent Singapore at the world finals in Zurich in March.

"The competition was very intense, but I told myself to fight on and not to give up," says Koh, who has been at Les Amis for 10 months. He beat seven other contestants, those including Philippines, Macau, and Thailand, which means that he will go on to represent Singapore in the World Finals in March at Zurich.

The competition was held at the annual Restaurant & Bar Hong Kong exhibition which comprised of two components over two days.

The first tested their ability to cook an egg dish within one hour on the first day.

The second was to cook a fish en croute (fish in pastry) platter with six portions within three hours on the second day.

Koh is a graduate of ITE's culinary arts program and was chosen out of seven candidates at the Singapore selection round in May, which was organized by the Disciples Escoffier International Singapore Delegation. It was also during his study here that he won the Gordon Ramsay internship.

He showed that he was made of steel while training for the competition between shifts and until the wee hours of the morning.

He was lucky enough to rope in Chef Khoo Wee Bin who is a renowned culinary instructor who is part of Singapore's national culinary team.

His mentor taught him the importance of small things, such as not neglecting to measure the temperature of oil in the pan, while helping him brush up on his techniques and organizational skills.