Chef Eric Teo brings nearly two decades of culinary experience to Mandarin Oriental, Singapore. Starting as an apprentice, it took him only ten years to rise up the ranks and assume position of executive chef at the Jerudong Park Polo Club (formally known as Royal Brunei Polo Club). Chef Teo was part of the opening team at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore before moving to Orchard Hotel as executive chef. His last position at Orchard Hotel was director of food and beverage.
Over the years, the culinary industry has recognised Chef Teo’s achievements with a host of awards and accolades. The World Gourmet Summit, an annual gourmet extravaganza is instrumental in placing Singapore on the world map as a food capital. As captain of the Singapore Culinary Team, Chef Teo led the team to finish with six medals, including two Olympic gold medals at the IKA 2000 Culinary Olympics in Erfurt. In 2002, Chef Teo again led the team at the Culinary World Cup in Expogast, Luxembourg, and finished second runner-up. In 2004, the team won four medals. That same year, Chef Teo was named Best Western Cuisine Chef at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards.
In recent years, Chef Teo became the first Singaporean to be appointed president of the Singapore Chef’s Association. He has actively been involved in judging at culinary competitions around the world and mentoring rising chefs as team advisor for the Singapore Culinary Team.
Interview with Eric Teo
What does being in the Hall of Fame mean to you?
This is a childhood dream come true.
Whenever we start a new career, we never know whether we would be able to succeed in it, and every time you win a competition, no matter how big or small, it means a lot to you because it is something to make your parents proud of.
I would say this achievement is dedicated to my parents who have both passed on. This award is definitely one of the biggest achievements in my entire career and I am very proud to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
I would like to thank Peter Knipp Holdings for creating this Hall of Fame for recognising a chef’s work.
Who or what inspires you?
European chefs have a certain style of not only handling their kitchens and their food but also the way they present themselves.
I started off as a waiter and Andreas Stalder is one of the first person whom I look up to because of the way he manages and creates menus. After his food tastings for the menus, the food seems to come alive. When you see customers come to the restaurant just for his food, you know there’s something he did right.
Also, there are the local chefs who participated in the culinary competitions in the 1980s. I will always look up to the winners, especially Chef Daniel Koh.
Do you have a quote that you live by?
You must enjoy and be happy in what you do. That’s the way to deliver good results. Every morning, before the day starts, you have two choices on how your day could turn out: positively or negatively. I am one who chooses to be positive and happy.
What advice would you give to the younger generation who would like to follow in your footsteps?
They would require a strong foundation in their basic culinary skills. Then, to try to understand the big picture of what it takes to become a professional chef. Celebrity chefs appearing on television act as good role models and a form of inspiration for the younger generation. However, they should not have the mindset of training to be a chef just to be a celebrity, for that will be going down the wrong route.
What other cuisines would you like to master?
I would love to master the Singapore cuisines, so as to be an ambassador for Singapore food. Ethnic hawker fares like Hainanese chicken rice and laksa may be common and found everywhere in Singapore, but to be able to cook them the right authentic way and to make them renowned worldwide is something I would really love to do.
Besides spreading the tastes of Singapore worldwide, I also see myself guiding foreign domestic helpers in teaching them how to prepare a simple yet nutritious three dish, one soup meal for their employers. The older generation is probably too tired to pass on their skills to the younger generation and domestic helpers, so I see this as my way of contributing back to the community.