Edmund Toh: Cooking up a storm

Edmund Toh, president of Disciples Escoffier International (DEI) Singapore Delegation, shares more about his fledging association and its mission to nurture budding chefs

What is expected of you as president of Disciples Escoffier International (DEI) Singapore Delegation?
Since November 2022, I have been officially redesignated as Young Talents Escoffier (YTE) Asia President, where I organise and oversee the YTE Asia 2023 competition that will be held in Singapore.

My committee members and I work closely together to uphold the spirit and legacy of DEI, a non-profit association created in Nice in 1954 dedicated to the culinary arts and the transmission of knowledge to younger chefs. The committee members comprise professional chefs, F&B stakeholders and gourmet purveyors.

What are some of the challenges that have been thrown the association’s way?
The pandemic was difficult, where a number of cafes and restaurants had to wind up, while others barely survived.

During this time, DEI Singapore focused on training and conducting masterclasses in Shatec Institutes for culinary students. Through the conducting of classes, we managed to save some money which enabled us to pay for the annual membership fees in DEI Asia Pacific.

As a non-profit organisation, we are constantly raising funds through activities such as epicurean dinners in restaurants and ballrooms. These funds go towards supporting our young chefs and their mentors to participate in YTE competitions in Asia and internationally.

How did DEI keep their members engaged during the pandemic?
We are a young and small association with just 26 members, and we pay the annual membership fee to the Asia Pacific office, so members do not have to worry about membership fees.

Why is it necessary to take part in tradeshows like Food & Hotel Asia -Food & Beverage?
YTE Asia was previously held at smaller-scale tradeshows such as Restaurant, Pub & Bar Asia or at culinary schools in Hong Kong, with YTE internationally held at culinary schools in Zurich in 2018, and Bordeaux in 2019.

The year 2023 will be the first time YTE Asia and Escoffier Week will be held in Singapore.

With the knowledge that FHA is one of the largest F&B tradeshows worldwide, we wanted to partner with them this year to elevate the awareness of YTE competitions, and show the industry that this is a platform for young chefs to come forward showcase the talents, and seek professional mentorship. through training and coaching to elevate their skills and achieve worldwide recognition.