Growing up in Singapore, cooking was the first choice of Chef Benjamin although he had originally planned to study art. His cooking adventures all started after a decision by his father, who sent him to culinary school to study French cuisine in the Lion City. During this period, the system of culinary education in Singapore echoed that of Europe, with students working in a variety of places during their internship, which is how he came to explore France and other countries to perfect his skills.
“When I was moving around to find a new job I found Chef Julien. He is also the person who inspired me to do this job,” he says, adding that studying cooking was quite different to today, with working in restaurants in Europe very busy and high tension. “The life there was very strict and busy; the team was small but this experience is memorable.”
This experience has shaped his styles in his own kitchen although “I will let my team work in their comfortable ways. Only through this can they be more creative,” he finds.
When Chef Benjamin returned to Singapore, he worked for the Hilton, which at the time housed one of only three fine dining French restaurants on the island. After that, he reconnected with his mentor Chef Julien at Saint Julien le Restaurant, but this time was in Singapore. To hone his cooking skills Chef Benjamin not only went to Europe but also the amazing 7-star hotel Burj al Arab, Jumeirah, Dubai to open an Asian restaurant in the fabled hotel.
With extensive working experience from all over the world, Benjamin learned the value a good team can bring to a restaurant, saying: “Members in my team are very close so we have the same visual and goal. To have fun at work is the goal. We have to enjoy what we do and be happy to help each other.”
Having worked in restaurants with as many as three Michelin stars, Chef Benjamin joined Four Seasons Hotel Macao as Executive Sous Chef in 2015. “If you ask anyone in this industry, everyone wants to join Four Seasons for sure,” he laughs.
Chef Benjamin is not only an adventurer but a very creative individual who never limits himself, using his creativity and skills to surprise local diners. “I hope local diners can be more adventurous and try more interesting food,” he says. “I think I can attract more customers.”
Considering the taste of local diners, Chef Benjamin also adaptats his recipes to attract more customers, thus eating in local restaurants is one of most important ways for him to gain inspiration for new menus.
“At the beginning after I came here,” he says, “I was not very happy. But now I’ve got used to the life here. I always go to Av. de Horta e Costa and Sun Yick as the curry bun is my favourite.”
Chef Benjamin is not only responsible for some restaurants in the hotel but also all relevant F&B events like MICE gatherings, explaining: “I prepared some special dinners for specific clients, then I could be more creative in meeting their requests.”
Last year, Chef Benjamin got involved in The Taste of Artistry, taking a few days behind closed doors to create an array of amazing edible paintings. “The team is very artistic; we wanted to do something that no-one in Macau had done before. So I came up with this idea.” he says. He also collaborated with some fashion brands like Isabelle Langlois to create a beautiful afternoon tea set inspired by the brand’s jewellery.
Chef Benjamin says he does not have a signature dish or philosophy; he just wants to be honest.
“Do what you know how to do and do it well is my philosophy. For me, a signature dish is what people want to eat, not a dish you keep cooking. A signature dish is your nickname as a chef, so it should be something that people keep ordering and ordering. You can’t create a signature dish that nobody wants to eat.”
Available from July, Chef Benjamin has created a new summer afternoon tea set with an array of adorable delicacies at Windows restaurant, where guests will surely savour their tasty journey and enjoy the relaxing ambiance and warming natural sunlight of this culinary oasis.