Halt, it’s the FBI! The Food and Beverage Industry, that is. They’re on a mission to rescue 13 youths from at-risk or vulnerable backgrounds. The medium? A cooking competition reality show dubbed Chefs with Heart.
Three Singaporean celebrity chefs – chef Benny Se Teo of Eighteen Chefs, chef Willin Low of Wild Rocket, and chef Heman Tan of FoodFest F&B Pte Ltd. – took up the commitment to hone, mould, and equip these youths with not just cooking skills but also important life values. In asking around, many of these youths look up to these chefs as inspiring role models!
Going behind the scenes, we interviewed Ms Josephine Liardon, creator of Chefs with Heart to give us an insight into organising events for social causes. Here’s what she has to say:
Taking a Sneak Pea-k!
How was the event idea conceived?
It all started two years ago where I met chef Benny. He seeded the idea for a training program: to invite a group of celebrity chefs to teach youths a skill and help them gain employment. As for me, I have a heart for young people. So we decided to collaborate! Then came David, producer and founder of Threeonesix (a media company and social enterprise). He was interested in filming a culinary reality show. The jigsaw pieces fit and it turned from training program to reality show.
We then interview and select our participants based on their enthusiasm and passion for cooking, and commitment to the program.
Organising this event’s akin to cooking, we need the right ingredients (i.e. partners and participants) to create a wonderful dish (i.e. Chefs with Heart)!
How do you envision Chefs with Heart to make an impact in Singapore?
Although this idea was conceived two years back, it is perfect timing to showcase it now what with the manpower shortage in the F&B industry. More emphasis should be placed on experience and skills and we hope to shift the industry’s focus from paper qualifications to training willing, able, and passionate youths.
What did you find most challenging?
One word, finances. There’s just so much more we would like to organise to grant these youths greater exposure to the F&B Industry. Once, we brought them to Tekka market in Little India to explore the variety of ingredients available! We’d love to bring them to factories too. But we work with what we have and thankfully we’re still able to pull off the (Chefs with Heart) program.
What did you find most enjoyable?
It’s meaningful, that’s what makes it most enjoyable. “Chefs with Heart” gives these youths a platform to explore different opportunities. It lets them know that there’s always hope and we just need to know where or who to look to for it.
Event details and Audience:
Where can we watch these aspiring chefs in action?
A tasting event will also be happening on 25th and 30th September in celebration of their achievements. A 4-course dinner will be served to 50 invited guests (family and friends included) on each night, whipped up by none other than our 13 chefs-to-be.
Do you have any tips to offer to others organising events for social causes?
Get the right partners. I can’t emphasise this enough. Getting the right partners who are aligned with your vision, believes in that vision, and who are willing to take the risk for its success.
The timing is also key to an event’s success; it has to be relevant to the times.
PeaTiX had the honour of attending the Basic Training session with chef Willin and witnessed first-hand his passion in mentoring. He imparts three points: To have the right working attitude, humility, and teamwork.
Awesome advice. Those three things will definitely help to get one far in life.
After an hour of intense chopping, slicing, blending and cooking, the dish was served! Pan-fried catfish with otah sauce, anyone? Chef Willin’s very own creation, yum!
Be sure to keep up with all the action here.
Image Credits: Just Cinnamon