Regardless, she’s clearly an ambassador for Singapore – but as a chef, it’s simply a way to connect with her heritage and express her identity, with plenty of room for creativity and improvisation.
FROM PLANT GEEK TO FINE DINING CHEF
Teo’s journey to becoming a chef didn’t begin with big aspirations. As a child, her interest was in botany. “I used to have a plant identification book about Singapore’s flora and fauna, and I would try to identify plants,” she recounted with a giggle.
It was only when she was pursuing a degree in science at the University of Melbourne that “I started to cook because I missed food from home”. At that point, “I wasn’t considering cooking as a career. We were brought up with the idea that if you don’t study, then you end up being a waiter. Needless to say my parents are not happy with my career life choice! Although I think they’ve come to terms with it now, there was a lot of push-back initially.”
As a student, she made “simple home recipes” that she’d call her mother to ask about. “I would cook for my friends on Friday evenings because nobody else wanted to cook.” She made dishes like omelette with preserved radish, stir-fried vegetables with garlic and her friends’ unanimous favourite, braised oyster sauce chicken wings.